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Autoworkers Union Says GM Strikers Holding Strong: 'Strike Is for All the Right Reasons'

Nearly 50,000 General Motors auto workers have been on strike since just before midnight Monday, and as negotiators plan to work through the weekend, union leaders say strikers are prepared to continue their fight.
"I think our members have a strong resolve. We've seen a lot of encouragement," Brian Rothenberg, a United Auto Workers spokesperson, told Cheddar on Friday. "They believe that the company needs to stand up for them for the things they sacrificed to help save this company. This company has made $38 billion over the past three years."
GM employees are protesting, Rothenberg said, over the treatment of temporary workers, job security, and healthcare benefits.
On Thursday, UAW-GM vice president Terry Dittes told striking workers in a statement that "some progress" had been made, but there are "many of our [m]emberships' issues that remain unresolved."
"This strike is for all the right reasons: to raise the standard of living of our Members and their families and for workers across this country, to achieve true job security, our fair share of the profits, affordable health care and a path to permanent seniority for temporary members," Dittes wrote.
On Friday afternoon, a representative from General Motors ($GM) confirmed to Cheddar that negotiations were still ongoing.
The strike could cost GM as much as $100 million a day, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, UAW workers are entitled to just $250 in pay a week while they are on strike.
Heightening tensions are temporary layoffs that are now rippling through GM's supply chain due to strike-related slowdowns. Also adding fuel to the fire: the automaker's decision to stop paying for health care for striking workers, which shifts that responsibility to the UAW's strike fund, totaling about $750 million, according to Rothenberg.
"The company has pushed back on our health care provisions, and obviously that could cost us a lot of money," Rothenberg added.
Rothenberg also said that UAW also wants stronger job security as GM pursues transition from producing cars with combustion engines to a fleet of all-electric vehicles. "Remember, a lot of jobs go into building an engine," he warned.
Also at issue are opportunities for temps. "Temporary workers help autoworkers better utilize their capacity and increase production when needed, but then bring it down to a regular level when a certain car or truck levels off in terms of its popularity," Todd Lassa, the Detroit Bureau Chief of Automobile Magazine, told Cheddar, earlier this week.
UAW maintain that that those jobs should be — or have a pathway to — full-time positions. "When a job opens up at the top, they have no seniority path to get to a permanent job," Rothenberg said.
In a surprise decision, GM publicly revealed details of its offer to the UAW workers earlier this week. That offer included a $7 billion investment in eight factories and a commitment to adding 5,400 jobs.
The automaker said that in addition to improved wages and benefits, and an $8,000 bonus for signing the proposed deal, it is also offering workers the nation's "first union-represented battery cell manufacturing site."
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