Employees at the large auto company General Motors are striking. Since September 15, employees at the company have refused to work, hoping that they can bargain for better working conditions. The employees are represented by a union – a group that workers can join in order to negotiate as a group.
Nearly two weeks have gone by, but negotiations between the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and General Motors have not ended the strike. Employees at General Motors (GM) are fighting for better wages and benefits, but so far, they have not been able to come to agreeable terms. It looks like the strike will continue until an agreement has been made.
One of the workers’ complaints is that employees hired as temporary personnel do not get the same benefits as regular employees. Yet temporary staff work right alongside the rest, doing the same job and getting paid less. It is also a long process to become a regular employee.
John Hoover is an electrician at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He said a big reason for the strike is that when GM was struggling and even considering bankruptcy, the employees came together, taking pay and benefit cuts to help the company through the tough times. “We have people that have been temps for eight years,” he said. “How long is it not temporary anymore — at what point? We gave up a lot for [GM]. We went 12 years without a raise. We gave back a dollar raise that we got to get them through the bankruptcy.”
When employees walk out on strike, they usually march in front of the facility at which they work while waiting for the union and employer to arrange a satisfactory deal to meet their demands. However, both the business and employees can lose a lot during this time, since there are fewer people to meet the company’s workload and employees do not make as much money while striking as they do when they are working.
This is not the first time workers have picketed the auto company. GM has a long history of union strikes conducted to gain better benefits for its employees. The strikes date back to at least 1936 and have often proven to end favorably for the workers, but this is the longest one in nearly a decade.