UAW strike enters fourth week after GM negotiations take step backwards

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Day 22 of the UAW workers strike against General Motors, and after the weekend, it doesn’t appear it’ll be over any time soon.

“One of our issues at the table is job security,” said Jason Watson, GM bargaining chair for Bowling Green’s UAW Local 2164. “It’s product allocation. That one issue alone is a huge issue.”

It’s the issue that has kept UAW workers on the picket line since Sept. 16, no matter the weather conditions or time of day.

“The morale right now is still pretty high even though they’ve been out there in 90 to 100 degree heat,” said UAW Local 2164 Vice President Lynn Nelson, Jr.

Last week, there had been some progress in contract talks between both parties, but after this past weekend, the two sides are further apart than they would’ve hoped for at this stage.

“Negotiations are what they are,” said Watson. “However, we are going to continue to stay diligent as members.”

One of the main issues with negotiations has centered around GM moving more of its production to countries outside of the United States like Mexico and Canada.

“The subject of where product is made is a touchy subject,” Watson said. “It’s not an aspect of the cost of labor that goes into the vehicle, it’s really not because the vehicles that are not made, they’re not any cheaper.”

Watson understands that plants being moved from communities can be detrimental not just to the workers at the relocated plant, but to the residents within that community as well.

“If General Motors made some arbitrary decision that they’re going to make the Corvette somewhere else, a thousand good-paying jobs with revenue that gets put back in the community would be felt,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

The strike was never a stage UAW workers wanted to reach, but because of it, they’ve grown closer through it all.

“It’s creating a sense of solidarity,” said Nelson, Jr. “It’s creating friendships and relationships that weren’t there in the past.”

Their hope is that the dispute will finally be resolved, but sooner rather than later.

“They are good jobs to have as far as wages and benefits,” said Watson. “We just want to continue that legacy and we want to increase it if we can in the communities where we have plants already.”

Industry officials estimate that GM is losing $80 million each day the strike continues, which is now entering its fourth week.