General Motors strike enters fourth week

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TONAWANDA, NY (WIVB) Roughly 3,000 local employees of General Motors continue to walk the picket line and there seems to be no significant progress in the talks.

As the employees outside the GM plant on River Road in the Town of Tonawanda begin their fourth week walking a picket line, none of the engines for the 2020 line of Silverado trucks are being made inside. The company may have already lost up to a billion dollars in profits, and these workers just received their first strike checks of only $250 a week.

“We are here for each other. We’re here to get a good contract,” said John Orsini, community service chair for the UAW Local 774. “As union leaders, we’ve been trying to get people ready for this, so we were saying at the union meetings ‘Save money. This might be a hardship we need to get through. This is for the future of our kids, for everything that the union was built on.”

Over the weekend, Union leadership reported that contract talks in Detroit took a turn for the worse, but GM gave us this statement today:

“We continue to negotiate in good faith with very good proposals that benefit employees today and builds a stronger future for all of us. We are committed to continuing discussions around the clock to reach a resolution.”

One of the main issues is about temporary workers, according to J.R. Baker, president of the UAW Local 774. “We have temps here, five-six year temps. They don’t get vacation time at all and if they do it’s three unpaid days off a year.”

The workers say they already gave back a lot to the company during contract negotiations twelve years ago, and the workers hired since then aren’t getting nearly the same benefits as those hired before.

“We don’t receive a pension. We have reduced vacation time. We have reduced other benefits. We don’t receive healthcare once we retire,” said Cleveland Jones Jr., who has been working at the GM Powertrain plant for the past six years. “You know we just want out piece of the pie and hopefully other companies, other unions will. We set that standard.”

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