WENTZVILLE, Mo. – Instead of being on the assembly line, UAW workers are on the picket line for the second straight day.
Around 13,000 workers linked to the United Autoworkers union nationwide, or less than 10 percent of the UAW’s total hourly workers, have taken a stand against three automaking giants – General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis – at the same time.
Wentzville worker walkouts began close to midnight Friday in an unusual way. UAW Local 2250 are trying to send a message as part of a calculated strategy to try to make the union’s strike funds last longer.
Among the union’s demands, a 36% pay raise (down from the original ask of 40%), medical benefits after retirement, and a four-day work week.
Several Wentzville workers spoke about their picketing experience and motives Saturday with FOX 2:
“As far as I know, if an employee was hired after 2007, they are no longer eligible for a pension,” said picketer Doug Thompson. “Upon retirement, the new hires will no longer have healthcare.”
“The recession happened more than a decade ago. We had to give so the company could continue to thrive. Now we feel like it’s time for them to give back,” Thompson added.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” said Sharon Pitts. “It’s like you’re building vehicles for the rich and middle class, and we can’t afford these vehicles. I think it’s only fair that they level the playing field.”
“They’re the ones breaking our bodies down while they’re sitting behind desks. It’s not fair they’re making the big bucks and we’re getting by on the scraps,” Pitts added.
The CEO says it’s unrealistic and could crush not just automotive companies, but damage the nation’s economy.
“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.
Thompson and Pitts say they wouldn’t be surprised if the strike lasted weeks, but there is currently no clear timetable as to when it might end.
Meanwhile, Ford announced layoffs of nearly 600 autoworkers at its Michigan assembly plant Friday, citing the UAW strikes as a reason behind the layoffs.