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GM UAW workers ponder the point of the strike in light of Ford's deal

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

General Motors hourly workers Mike Yakim and Sean Crawford are lucky.

They each work at a GM factory pretty much guaranteed to keep building vehicles over the next four years. That's considered by union members to be job security.

Still, both men said they now think that the six-week strike against GM was not worth it in the end.

"I lost six weeks of pay and it didn't accomplish its goal, product allocation being a goal," said Yakim. He works at GM's Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant, where he transferred after GM shuttered Lordstown Assembly in Ohio. He had hoped, during bargaining, the union would win new product to restart Lordstown.

"The allocation of products was tremendously important and we didn't get it," said Yakim, who lives in an apartment near Lansing. His family still lives in Lordstown. "That was the 'no' vote right there. We don't have any guarantees."

In the contract, GM promised a $7.7 billion investment in U.S. manufacturing and to create or retain about 9,000 jobs over four years. The UAW GM department skimped on specifics in its initial highlights, but its more detailed "white book" listed investments in Lansing Delta, Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee, Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and the Warren Tech Center.


Still, that's five out GM's 33 U.S. production facilities, whereas the UAW's tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co. provides detailed investment into all its U.S. facilities.

UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the strike achieved gains for the union membership. "There will be substantial investments based on commitments outlined in the GM contract over the next four years," he said.

More job security

The GM strike was effective, said Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in labor.


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