ANKARA: Around 48,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union began a nationwide strike early Monday against US automotive company General Motors, shutting down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses.
The strike, announced Sunday by the UAW, is the first against GM in 12 years.
The move comes after union and GM officials failed to agree on extending contracts over wages, healthcare and profit-sharing amid a call from President Donald Trump on both sides to reach a deal.
“At midnight tonight (Sunday), the picket lines will go up,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said earlier at a news conference in Detroit. “But basically, when the morning shift would have reported for work, they won’t be there. The picket lines are being set up.”
Headquartered in Detroit, the automotive capital of the US, the UAW was founded in 1935 and currently has 390,000 active members.
The last strike against GM was in 2007 when workers staged a two-day walkout.
“While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality healthcare and job security, GM refuses to put hardworking Americans ahead of their record profits,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. Hinting at a tough negotiation process, Dittes emphasized that the workers don’t take the current conditions ‘’lightly”. GM officials in a statement Sunday to news outlet NPR said “it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike.”
The decision to strike came after GM’s announcements to close down at least four factories nationwide even though the company’s profits last year exceeded $8 billion.
Top UAW officials including its president Gary Jones have also been under investigation over a corruption scandal involving the alleged embezzlement of union funds.