BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Following a template set earlier this week by Ford, auto manufacturer Stellantis announced on Saturday it reached a tentative contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union, leaving General Motors the lone holdout among Detroit’s major automakers.
UAW Region 9 Assistant Director Ray Jensen Jr. says the main things workers are fighting for are fair wages, retirement benefits and issues with temporary workers.
“We don’t want to be rich. We just want to be able to buy a house, put our kids in school and buy the products that we build,” Jensen said.
The tentative deals that are on the table seek to answer that problem for the more than 45,000 union auto workers.
“For so long we had members making $16.67 an hour. They can be abused for eight years before they get to full rate or even be a temp for up to ten years. So now these are going to turn back into middle-class careers,” Jensen said.
As General Motors remains without a possible deal with the union at this point, Jensen said if workers at any local GM facilities do end up going on strike, “I just ask that the community support them as they did in 2019.”
“Wentzville was one of the first locals to get stand up and called on Sept. 14. We’re very appreciative of those members making sacrifices for all of us [for the past 46 days]. We’re hopeful that GM will come to the table with some sort of an agreement that benefits all of the members,” Jensen said.
According to Fred Floss, professor of economics at Buffalo State University, the current strike has had little effect on western New York.
“None of the plants in western New York were on the list that went out. So, we haven’t lost any money whatsoever because everybody’s been working while the strike has been going on,” Floss said.
However, for workers not in the auto industry, this strike by the UAW serves as a blueprint for all.
“Some of that is obviously because of the great inequality in income between those at the top and the average worker. So, you’re starting to see workers try to organize and get a living wage and push up their quality of life,” Floss said.