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Day 20 of United Auto Workers Strike at GM

By Tom Burke

GM strikers on the picket line.

Wyoming, MI – On day 20 of their strike, workers waved “UAW on strike!” signs as they walked back and forth, October 5. Six groups of determined United Auto Workers of Local 167 stood outside and blocked entrances at the enormous General Motors (GM) plant in Wyoming, a working-class Michigan town. A total of 46,000 union strikers are out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States. GM is losing millions of dollars while negotiations with the UAW continue.

Every few minutes, men and women passing by in cars and pickup trucks honked and yelled out their windows in solidarity. One UAW picketer said, “People flash their lights at night, instead of honking, so as not to wake the neighbors.” At one point a group of 25 motorcyclists roared past at funeral speed, fists raised in the air.

This West Michigan GM plant makes lifters, cam phasers, and axles for light duty trucks. In days gone by it employed over 3000. Today there are 700 to 800 workers on three shifts.

“The members out walking the picket line are in high spirits,” said Scott Poole, a UAW member who works in the plant. “Members from other UAW locals are coming down to support us. A group of four UAW retirees from Flint were here to walk the line in solidarity.”

The big issues for union members on the picket lines are health care costs going up and the fact that most temporary workers are now past three years of employment. Temps make about half the pay of full-timers. Temporary workers now comprise 7% of the GM workforce.

Negotiations are ongoing, with pay increases, pay progression for temporary workers, and pensions reportedly being haggled over. With GM making record profits in four recent years – a net income of $27.5 billion – workers are expecting to do far better than the past two UAW contracts.

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