UAW increases strike pay for GM workers as negotiations continue

PHOTO: United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan.PlayBill Pugliano/Getty Images
WATCH News headlines today: Nov. 20, 2019

The United Auto Workers executive board voted to increase the strike pay to $275 per week for General Motors workers as the strike against the Detroit automaker enters its fifth week with no clear end in sight.

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In addition to increasing strike pay from $250 to $275, the union leaders also announced they were allowing members on strike to take on part-time jobs without reducing their strike pay as long as they continue to perform their picket duties.

PHOTO: United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan.

 

“UAW members and their families are sacrificing for all of us,” Gary Jones, the president of the UAW, said in a statement Saturday announcing the wage increase.

“We are all standing together for our future," he added. "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.”

Previously, union workers who took on part-time jobs while on strike that paid more than the UAW strike wages would not be eligible to receive the strike pay.

"Every little bit more helps," Keondis Howell, a striking GM worker, told ABC News. "Two-fifty has barely been enough to put gas in the car and groceries on the table."

On Friday, UAW vice president Terry Dittes announced that a counterproposal to GM's latest offer had been submitted.

"If GM accepts and agrees to this group of proposals, we will have a Tentative Agreement," Dittes said in a letter to union members, adding that the tentative agreement will include "a review and approval of all language issues as well as the economic terms approved by your elected Bargaining Committee."

PHOTO: United Auto Workers union members and their families picket at the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
United Auto Workers union members and their families picket at the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan.

Approximately 49,000 union workers walked off their jobs on the night of Sept. 15, starting a nationwide strike at General Motors after a previous labor contract expired and negotiations over a new one fell apart.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company's profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. Union members are calling for fair wages, saying for every $1 a GM employee made, CEO Mary Barra made $281.

The strike comes nearly a year after GM announced it was laying off 15 percent of its salaried workers and shuttering five plants in North America.

PHOTO: United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
United Auto Workers union members and their families rally near the General Motors Flint Assembly plant on Solidarity Sunday on Oct. 13, 2019, in Flint, Michigan.

 

Last week, Barra met with union negotiators for the first time. Shortly after the UAW put out a statement accusing GM of attempting to "undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike."

GM has argued that the offer it presented to UAW workers "prioritizes employees, communities and builds a stronger future for all."

"It includes improved wages and health care benefits, over $7B in U.S. investments and 5,400 jobs," the company said in a tweet.