With the strike by more than 48,000 union members set to enter its fifth full week, the United Auto Workers and General Motors made little headway in talks that center on the union’s new contract.
The UAW also moved to underscore its determination by raising the strike pay by $25 per week and beginning a strike against the heavy truck manufacturer, Mack Truck.
GM had been pressuring the union to make an offer, but the union counterproposal apparently wasn’t to the company’s liking another round of negotiation produced few signs of progress.
Finally, the union made an offer that it described as “comprehensive” and said it could lead to a tentative settlement provided GM accepted it. GM didn’t and the two sides remained deadlocked and talks are scheduled to resume today.
Instead the union went ahead with another “Solidarity Sunday” to underscore its determination to continue the strike, which is now the longest walkout at GM since an epic strike in 1970.
Union members, to the surprise of some observers, have been remarkably supportive of the walkout, which the strikers have readily admitted has many of them facing financial hardship.
Some of the edge has been taken off the tough times, local union officers have said, by an outpouring of donations and other support that enabled many striking locals to open strike kitchens offering free meals and distribute food baskets to union members.
Over the weekend, the union also moved to raise the strike pay $250 per week to $275 per week. The increase had been scheduled for Jan. 1, according to a resolution approved by the union’s executive but will now take effect this week.
In addition, the executive board also voted to uncap the amount of money union members could earn from part-time jobs during the strike. Up until now, union members strike pay was reduced dollar for dollar up to $249 by any outside earnings. Now members will get strike plus any outside income they earn.
“UAW members and their families are sacrificing for all of us. We are all standing together for our future. This action reflects the UAW commitment and solidarity to all of our members and their families who are taking a courageous stand together to protect our middle-class way of life,” The union said in a statement announcing the changes.
Previously part-time work that exceeded the $250 strike pay would void payment of UAW member strike pay benefit. The decision made during the executive board’s special session now allows all members on strike with GM and Aramark to receive both increased strike pay and take on part-time work that provides more than $250 per week as long as picket duty is performed, the union statement said.
In a surprise move, the UAW also launched a strike, involving 3,600 union members against Mack Truck, heavy truck make that belongs to AB Volvo and sounded many of the same themes that have echoed through the GM strike, which began Sept. 26.