Rochester — Nearly 50,000 UAW unionists walked off the job and onto the picket line at midnight last night. In a show of solidarity, CSEA and several other labor unions joined the picket line a few hours after the strike began. The union set up the picket lines at the parking lot entrance of the GM administration building on Lexington Avenue and at the Driving Park entrance to the facility.
The UAW unionists are part of a group of General Motors workers at 33 manufacturing plants and 22 parts distribution warehouses nationwide who went on strike. That includes 46,000 autoworkers and 3,000 union-represented janitors with Aramark, a concession and facilities management company, who clean up five GM plants in Ohio and Michigan.
Workers are upset about GM’s demands for concessions, as well as GM’s closing of plants in Lordstown, Ohio, and Warren, Michigan, while the company continues an expansion overseas. They want an end to a “two-tier” wage system put in place after the auto bailout, and a path for temporary workers to become permanent employees.
The strike at General Motors is the first since 2007, and the first at its Rochester plant since it was made a wholly owned GM subsidiary during the auto bailout (it previously was part of Delphi, a key parts supplier). Workers and allies were enthusiastic to walk the first day of the picket line, and the mood was jovial and optimistic. At the rally, many UAW unionists told the media they have been preparing for this day to come and have been saving money and paychecks accordingly.
“We demand fair pay and benefits for the work we perform. We stand united against “race to the bottom” economics and corporate greed. We will win this fight by coming together in true solidarity to last one day longer, one day stronger,” said UAW Local 1097 President Dan Maloney at the rally.
He says every day the production is shut down it impacts tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.
In 2009, Maloney says union workers took a 40 percent pay cut and have been working their way back ever since. The last strike was in 2007 when the plant was at the Delphi facility.
“The people you see picketing outside are responsible for manufacturing carburetors, manifolds, fuel injectors and other components for General Motors vehicles,” Maloney added.
Negotiations between United Auto Workers and General Motors are set to continue.
-Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2019