Local UAW VP: National strike against GM fires up after contracts fall short

GM employees, Memphis UAW employees on strike

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Starting Sunday night and into Monday, 142 United Auto Workers at a General Motors Customer Care and Aftersales location in Memphis went on strike.

Nationwide, nearly 50,000 workers are doing the same.

"We play our part. Put boots on the ground. Make our presence felt and slow down production,” said local UAW Vice President Jeffrey Thomas.

The strike, which happened after contracts expired at 11:59 p.m Sunday, comes after contract negotiations fell short.

“We got our international reps around the bargaining table trying to come up with a compromise on benefits and temporary work, holidays, wages,” said Thomas.

National UAW leaders say GM is putting profit before employees. Representatives from both sides have been meeting since July.

"We are standing up for fair wages. We are standing up for affordable quality health care. We are standing up for our share of the profits,” said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S. as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

According to GM’s website, there’s also a manufacturing company in Spring Hill, Tennessee and a parts distribution center in Brandon, Mississippi.

GM says it’s offered more than $7 billion in investments and more than 5,400 jobs. In a tweet from Sunday, GM insisted it offered best-in-class wages and benefits.

"Whenever production slows down money is lost and that’s our main goal. It’s to let the company know we mean business,” said Thomas.

While negotiations continues, Governor Bill Lee says he has concerns any time Tennessee workers are impacted. He believes workers and companies do best when they have a direct relationship free of union influence.

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