GM employees go on strike, locals affected


PHOTO Gracie Warda

UAW Workers strike near Flint, Michigan.

Andrea Elsholz and Emmy Johnson

General Motors (GM) United Automobile Workers (UAW) have gone on strike. Originating in Chicago, Illinois, this is the union’s first walkout since 2007. On September 16, around 50,000 UAW workers left their position, reported by the Chicago Tribute. 

The New York Times speculates that GM’s plan to switch to electric cars, as well as outsourcing, was responsible for starting the strikes. Most of these factories have been transferred to Mexico, China, and Japan leaving workers out of the job.

“Strikes are unfortunate; they happen,” retired GM executive Mike Warda said. “Both sides have needs and they’ll handle those out on the negotiating table; one day you’ll go to bed and in the morning and it’ll be settled. Both sides will give and take. Both sides have things they really have to have and they’ve got to be that way. And they always do.”

Despite this, UAW strikes have cost GM around $1 billion. While GM is taking these repercussions, negotiation has begun to end the strikes and resume manufacturing.

The constant progression of new technology has put workers under pressure to meet new standards, causing some tension in the union-management relationship. 

“There was a lot of stress,” Anthony McMiller, an assembly line worker at GM Flint, said. “Whenever they’re in a crunch for production numbers, upper management is trying to get to manufacturing numbers hurriedly into the market as finished products.”

This translates into GM committing temporary workers to the same production level expectations as full-time employees, cultivating stress in the workplace. Factory plants will continue to produce with these temporary workers until the strike is over. 

Corporate workers have also joined UAW strikers, blaming GM for stress. Cutting back salaries and transferring jobs across the world have left the strikers exhausted from the constant mobility of GM, especially considering many corporate employees are expected to work late at night to keep up with GM’s cycle.

While Chicago will continue manufacturing in the future, UAW Flint strikers are worried they won’t have the same reassurance as Chicago. However, many think that Flint will soon bounce back into a normal manufacturing schedule.

“Flint’s going to bounce back and they already are, almost. They’re on their way,” Warda said. “Our infrastructure for all of the water is going to get fixed and Flint is going to end up being a model automotive city again.”

Flint factories continue their UAW strike until negotiating will be finalized, fighting for the same reasons as Chicago.

Flint and Chicago factories and cooperate buildings have both continued on their strikes, while GM negotiates with the union on how to continue with manufacturing their vehicles, electric or not. GM hopes to continue its assembly in these factories soon.