48,000 General Motors workers begin strike

The Union and the company were unable to agree on a new collective agreement.

The United Union of motorists (UUM) said on Sunday that about 48,000 General Motors employees who work by the hour and are members will strike at midnight on Sunday after collective bargaining negotiations stalled.

It will be the first nationwide strike by General Motors workers in 12 years.

“We don’t take this lightly,” UUM Vice President Terry Ditts, in charge of Union relations with General Motors, said at a press conference in Detroit.
“We have to take extreme measures,” he added.

The company said in a statement that its OPA proposal included investments worth more than $ 7 billion, 5,400 jobs, most of which should be new jobs, wage increases, broader benefits, and an $ 8,000 ratification bonus.

“We negotiated in good faith, understanding their urgency,” the car company said.

Earlier Sunday, 850 General Motors service personnel went on strike.

The Union is fighting the company’s plans to close assembly plants in Ohio and Michigan and insists that workers deserve higher wages after years of record General Motors profits in North America.

The company argues that plant closures are a necessary response to changes in the market and that the levels of wages and benefits that OPA offers are costly compared to non-Union competing auto plants in the southern US.

The company said in a statement that its proposal to the Union included a decision on plants in Michigan and Ohio that now have nothing to load production.

According to Ditts, by the time the previous collective agreement with the leading American manufacturer expired, which happened at 23:59 on Saturday, the parties remained “significant differences” on wages, health benefits, temporary workers, job security and profit sharing.

The Union called the closure of the factories a betrayal of workers who made concessions in 2009 to help the automaker go through bankruptcy proceedings, which was conducted by the government.

“General Motors needs to understand that we stood up for it when they needed us,” Ted Kramm, the head of the Union delegation negotiating with the company, told a news conference on Sunday.

“These are lucrative times and we deserve a fair deal. We helped make this company what it has become, ” he added.