UAW members get $250 a week while on strike

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Union workers on the picket lines get paid $250 a week while on strike to pressure General Motors at the contract negotiation table.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers walked off the job at 12 a.m. Monday, bringing production at 51 plants across the nation to a standstill.

United Auto Workers leaders say they want GM to increase profit sharing with employees and provide better working conditions for staff and temporary employees. GM officials say employees are well paid. A spokesperson told News 8 Tuesday that the average GM hourly worker makes $90,000 a year before benefits, a notion workers on the picket line said was laughable.

Martin Wood is among the GM employees on strike at the company’s plant at Burton Street and Burlingame Avenue in Wyoming. He said the strike is a sacrifice for everyone participating.

“For my family, we’ll go without a paycheck,” he said. “They’ve taken a lot and I think the union worker has given a lot to keep these things going. So we want better conditions for our workers.”

If drivers honking their horns was any sign, the workers seemed to have a lot of support. 

“It means huge support,” Wood said. “We really need the community to know why we’re doing this.”

But as the strike goes on, pressure increases on both sides. Some employees were surprised to learn Tuesday that GM would not continue to supplement health insurance costs and that premiums would have to be covered in full by workers themselves or the union as long as the strike continues.

“They’re worried about their insurance being canceled. They’re worried about, you know, getting back in the plant,” Wood explained. “Am I still going to have a job when I get back?”

GM is also losing big money — some reports indicate more than $10 million an hour or $250 million a day. 

Company officials said employees who don’t wish to participate in the strike can report to work. If their normal job duty can’t be performed due to the stoppage, other “meaningful work” will be assigned, a spokesperson said. Few employees have taken that opportunity, the spokesperson said.

Wood said he and his colleagues would rather be at their work stations than on the picket lines.

“It’s hard for everyone standing out here,” he said. “But we need to go back with a good contract.”

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