WENTZVILLE, Mo. – A nice sunrise Friday over General Motors Wentzville Assembly revealed signs that autoworkers hope will usher in the dawn of a new labor contract.

More than 13,000 members the United Autoworkers Union hit the picket line Friday morning. Workers in Wentzville were among the first nationwide to strike.

“We would not be on strike if General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis were sitting down and negotiating in good faith,” said Glenn Kage Jr. with UAW Local 2250.

Kage Jr. was also the union’s president during the 2019 GM Strike.

“Nobody wins, but sometimes it’s a necessary tool that you have to use to get them to sit down and bargain a decent, fair and equitable contract,” added Kage Jr.

From Missouri to Michigan and Ohio, United Auto Workers hit the picket lines around midnight. It’s the first time in history that the UAW is striking against the three big automakers at the same time.

Around 13,000 have walked off the job. That’s less than ten percent of the UAW’s total hourly workers, a move calculated to make the union’s strike funds last longer.

“This strateg will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.

The union’s demands include 30-percent raises, medical benefits for retirees, and four-day workweeks. The CEOs say that’s unrealistic and would crush not just the companies, but perhaps even more.

“No one wins. The employee doesn’t win and the communities suffer. At General Motors, for every one job we have, it supports six other jobs in the economy.” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

“You know who’s not doing concessions? The CEOs of the companies. Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, has made nearly $30 million in the last contract. Her pay went up 40-percent. And that’s where the 40-percent number is coming from. Will we get that? We don’t know, but it’s worth a shot,” said Kage Jr.

President Biden has spoken to both sides, urging a resolution, before it threatens the economy.

“Record-corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW,” said U.S. President Joe Biden.

In Wenztville, autoworkers plan to stay the course in what they believe is a battle for the present and the future.

“My message to the public is ‘Thank you for your support, please continue supporting us.’ This fight is not just for the UAW, it’s for working families around the country.” said Kage.