There is fresh hope the General Motors strike could be resolved this week. United Auto Workers leaders from GM facilities across the U.S. have been summoned to a national meeting on Thursday in Detroit. Workers want better pay, improved conditions for temporary workers, stronger healthcare benefits and job security. CGTN’s Dan Williams has the latest from Flint, Michigan.
As night falls, temperatures in Flint, Michigan, dip to freezing But the spirit among striking General Motors workers remains strong.
These workers will stay on the picket line until 11 p.m when another shift will take over. There was music and barbecue while some roasted marshmallows.
“We’re here for the long haul. One day longer. One day stronger. Lots of firewood, lots of tents. We ain’t going nowhere,” said one worker. “I think it is do or die. If we don’t do it this time, it may go away.”
The strike comes at a price. Workers have been surviving on 250 dollars a week for the last four weeks, paid by their union, the United Automobile Workers. Last weekend, the UAW voted to increase that to 275 dollars a week.
“It’s difficult for the members. We are going from making a paycheck every week to 250 dollars a week. The first week of this strike, it is easy to be upbeat and everything as you have one more check to get, then all of a sudden when that strike check starts coming in, 250 dollars a week, reality hits,” said Frank Trubiro, UAW Local 659 Vice President.
About 48 thousand UAW members have been on strike since September 16. In addition to bumping up strike pay, union leaders also cleared members to work part-time jobs as long as they keep up their picket duties.
The Anderson Economic Group consulting firm estimates GM lost 1.13 billion dollars in profits over the first four weeks of the strike.
“The first few days of the strike, the impact on GM it’s only a few million dollars. They’ve got a bunch of vehicles that have just come off the assembly line. For GM, the challenge is, as you get three to four weeks down the line, you’ve not been delivering vehicles to dealers. We are estimating about one hundred million dollars per day now, in the fifth week, over 100 million a day in lost profits for GM, ” said Brian Peterson from the Anderson Economic Group.
The wider region has also been impacted, with GM suppliers also laying off thousands of workers. Hopeful signs of progress in talks between union leaders and GM are welcome here. But for now, workers are preparing for another cold night on the picket line.