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Striking workers at GM Wentzville Assembly optimistic about possible deal

WENTZVILLE, Mo. – There is optimism among some 4,500 striking General Motors workers in the St. Louis area following news of a tentative agreement between GM and the workers’ union.

The workers have been on strike for 31 days. Strikers were still getting support from passing motorists who honked their horns. People on the picket line were smiling after news of a tentative deal.

“The feeling since the announcement is optimistic; not overly celebratory,” said Darin Gilley, financial secretary for UAW Local 2250 in Wentzville.

The Wentzville Assembly plant turns out about 1,100 trucks and commercial vans each day. Workers cover three shifts. It’s the highest utilized plant in General Motor’s system. Union officials from Wentzville and across the country will learn Thursday exactly what’s in the new contract and whether or not to put it to a vote of the membership.

Don’t expect them to return immediately with just a tentative agreement.

“Since the beginning of the strike, International President Gary Jones said we would ratify before we return,” Gilley said.

Local restaurants like Pete’s depend on GM for up to 30 percent of its business. On Wednesday, the parking lot and restaurant were all but empty. Owner Pete Luetkenhaus hopes union members approve the pact.

“It’s good for our business and all the workers, too; they all got families,” he said.

Hundreds of workers at a GM supplier in Nashville, Illinois were laid off after the strike began. They could also be able to return to work.

Union leaders believe the contract GM and the union agree too could affect all types of workers across the country, even if they have no connection to the auto industry.

“The UAW contract used to set the industrial standard for America,” Gilley said. “We’re not quite that powerful right now but we’re hoping we can set an example of how to treat your employees correct.”

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