ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Hangups on some key issues prolonged a strike by General Motors union members into a second day.
These are nervous times for union workers and company officials with General Motors.
Rich LeTourneau, the bargaining chairman for local 2209, and the union’s president, Holli Murphy, paid visits Tuesday to entrances of the Fort Wayne GM Truck Assembly Plant where picketers are taking shifts during the work stoppage.
“Are we sticking together?” LeTourneau asked workers manning one gate.
We caught up with Willie Dockery, who has 41 years on GM’s payroll.
He has endured three strikes since moving to Fort Wayne when the local plant opened in 1986.
“We’re out here fighting for a way of life and that’s it. I don’t know if I’m middle class, but we’re fighting for it anyway,” Dockery said with a chuckle.
In contract talks, the UAW is seeking protection of top flight health benefits and a closing of the wage gap between long-time union workers and newer hires who get paid much less.
We also spoke with Shelly Ellenwood, a temp worker at the plant, who is grateful that the union is prioritizing carving out a path for temp workers to be converted to full-time status.
“All for one, one for all, that’s what I feel. And my dad he worked at Harvester, he did the same thing before they closed, so, for you dad,” Ellenwood said, as she pointed to the sky.
GM officials on Sunday made public part of its offer to the union, including pledging to invest $7-billion in its U.S. business, creating 5,400 jobs and improving wages, health benefits and profit sharing to try and get a deal done.
Local union officials can’t share every detail from bargaining, but they want to make sure to provide encouragement to union members.
“They’ve got to know that we’re behind them and what they’re doing is for the right cause, and they’ve got to know that we’ve got their back the whole time,” LeTourneau said.
“We’re working around the clock down at that union hall to make sure that everything is being taken care of here,” Holli Murphy said.
Tuesday afternoon, WXYZ out of Detroit was reporting that General Motors is pulling the plug on healthcare coverage for striking workers effective immediately, rather than having coverage stay in force until the end of the month.
That means the union will have to pick up the tab for coverage out of its strike fund.