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General Motors UAW workers strike after no agreement reached

GM has placed electric pickup truck production on the table as part of its offer.

UAW-GM Strike, Sept. 16
It's the first time auto workers have gone on strike in 12 years.
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Following a brief contract extension over the weekend, the UAW auto workers have gone on strike with nearly 50,000 GM workers taking to the picket line across the US. The strike began at midnight on Sunday.

In the strike announcement, the UAW said the strike is an effort to have GM and the other US automakers recognize "contributions and sacrifices that the company's UAW members have made to create a healthy, profitable, industry." The list of topics the UAW and GM did not reach an agreement on is rather extensive, according to the union.

Healthcare, fair wages, profit sharing, job security and an explicit plan for temp workers to become full-time workers are the areas the UAW listed as reasons for the strike. The final point has been contentious for years as the union looks to make thousands of temporary workers full-time employees with benefits.

"We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept," National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm of UAW Local 652, said. "We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve."

General Motors in its own statement laid out what it presented as the finer details missing in action. Most importantly, GM said it presented "solutions for unallocated assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio." The Lordstown assembly plant in western Ohio has been idle since March. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan will go idle in January 2020. The UAW has underscored it does not want to see these plants close, but per agreements, GM will need to successfully negotiate their closure or work with the union to find a solution.

The statement went on to describe $7 billion worth of investments and 5,400 new jobs as part of GM's offer. Aside from standard new vehicle and engine programs, GM specifically named electric pickup truck introductions and a union-represented battery cell production site.

When asked if electric pickup truck production could be one of the "solutions" for unallocated plants in Michigan and Ohio, a GM representative declined to comment. The automaker also provided no comment on the proposed battery cell production site and where that may be located. Connecting a few dots, the battery cell production site could be another "solution" for an idled assembly plant in Ohio or Michigan.

The UAW told Roadshow it does not comment publicly about negotiations but shared a letter from Terry Dittes, Vice President of the UAW General Motors Department. In the letter, Dittes acknowledged the public details of GM's proposal and said, "We are disappointed that [GM] waited until just two hours before the contract expired to make what we regard as its first serious offer."

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