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UAW Raising Strike Pay Ahead of Big Three Negotiations

Workers get $250 a week now, up $50 a week.

by on Mar.11, 2019

UAW President Gary Jones said striking workers will get $50 more in their check effective immediately.

In a warning that it was preparing for a fight during contract talks with Detroit’s automakers this coming summer, the United Auto Workers raised the amount it will pay workers, who walk off the job from $767-million strike fund.

UAW President Gary Jones told opening day attendees of the union’s Special Convention on Collective Bargaining said the union’s executive board approved raising the weekly strike pay, effectively immediately to $250 per week from the current level of $200 per week.

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The strike pay will be raised to $275 per week effective Jan. 1, 2020, said Jones, adding the union’s strike benefits also include health insurance for union members and their families during the duration of any contract dispute that leads to a strike.

“We’re setting the bar and we’re setting it high,” said Jones, who will be leading the union into negotiations with the Detroit’s automakers for the first time. “The stakes are real and we know the stakes are high. We know we rise and we fall together. We ready to gear and to fight for what is right.”

(UAW leaders meet as prelude to bargaining with automakers. Click Here for the story.)

The hike in strike pay is a not altogether subtle warning to the union’s adversaries, particularly GM, with which the union is now engaged in a dispute about the carmaker’s decision to close different factories in the U.S.

The union has filed suit in U.S. District Court to stop GM from making the closing permanent, but the first plant closed last week when the carmaker shut down its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. GM said the plant was closed because of declining sales of the compact Chevrolet Cruze, but GM has no plans for loading another product into the Lordstown plant.

(Click Here for details about UAW suing General Motors over plant closures.)

Other issues quickly surfaced during the meeting. A group of retirees from GM plants in and around Flint staged a demonstration outside the meeting calling for an increase in pensions.

Due to concessions made by the union during the 2008-2009 recession, the average GM retiree has lost more than $20,000, noted Kathy Otto, a GM retiree, who acted a spokeswoman for the group of about 60 retirees who made the trip from Flint to Detroit.

(To see more about the UAW’s efforts to reverse GM’s decision to close plants, Click Here.)

“GM used to reimburse us for our Medicare supplement. Now they don’t. They used to pay an annual bonus. Now they don’t,” said Otto, who said the retirees want the union to push for pension improvement in the next contract.

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