Day 1: UAW Workers Man Picket Line Wentzville GM Plant

WENTZVILLE, MO - About 4,500 workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville walked picket lines instead of working the assembly lines on day 1 of the nationwide United Auto Workers strike against the carmaker, Monday.

GM released a statement saying negotiations had resumed.

Everyone in Wentzville was hoping it would turn out to be just a 2-day work stoppage like the last one at the plant in 2007.

There’s no word of any progress and the two sides remained far apart, said Glenn Kage, President of UAW Local 2250 in Wentzville.

Close to 50,000 UAW workers have walked off the job at 55 GM sites across the country.

There is much at stake in Wentzville where GM turns out pick-ups and full-size vans.  GM is considering a $750-million investment at the plant: upgrading, expanding, and adding an unspecified number of jobs.  GM boasts its latest contract offer includes better pay and benefits, more than $7-billion in investments at plants, and 5,400 new jobs at plants nationwide.

GM offered no protection against out-sourcing jobs in the future, Kage said.  About 450 workers in Wentzville had been classified as “temporary” workers for more than three years, he added.

Temporary workers are on a lower scale for wages and benefits.

“The company made over $40 billion profit the last 4 years,” Kage said.  “There’s a lot more to it than wages and benefits.  True, we want better wages, we want better benefits.  Everybody wants that but it’s also about the temporary workers we have, the conversion to give them permanent status.  We have temporary workers that have been working for 4 years in our facility.  That’s not fair to them.”

UAW workers considered the offer especially unacceptable in light of the taxpayer-funded bailout that saved the company when it hit bankruptcy during the recession 10 years ago.

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