The United Auto Workers union said Sunday that its approximately 49,000 members at General Motors plants across the United States will go on strike at midnight. It would mark the first national UAW strike since a two-day walkout in 2007 and comes as contract negotiations with GM have stalled. “We are standing up for our members and for the fundamental rights of working-class people of this nation,” said Terry Dittes, the union’s GM department vice president. “Going into the bargaining season, our members have been very clear of what they will and will not accept in this contract.”
There is a chance the strike could be called off if negotiators manage to come up with an agreement before midnight but union officials characterized that as highly unlikely considering there are still significant differences on a number of issues, including jobs, wages, and benefits. On Sunday morning, talks between the union and the automaker were suspended. GM rejected criticism from the union, saying it had made several concessions. “It is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight. We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business,” the company said.
A strike will quickly paralyze the company’s operations and could even reverberate into the U.S. economy as a whole. Any strike will be painful for both the company and workers. Halting production would cost GM around $400 million per day while workers get only $250 a week in strike wages. But the union is standing firm in its demands in part because any agreement with GM would set a precedent for negotiations with other companies.
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