Parma - More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike.
Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.
Workers from the General Motors Parma Metal Center were among those who went on strike, tight lipped as the national UAW and other leaders are set to meet with GM officials Monday morning around 10 a.m. to discuss a possible quick end to the strike.
1100 workers are stationed at the Parma location, which reportedly shells out 500 tons of steel per day and can distribute up to 100-million parts per year.
The main areas of disagreement are apparently:
— GM making big money, $8 billion last year alone, and workers want a bigger slice. The union wants annual pay raises to guard against an economic downturn, but the company wants to pay lump sums tied to earnings. Automakers don't want higher fixed costs.
— The union also wants new products for the four factories slated to close. GM currently has too much U.S. factory capacity, especially to build slower-selling cars.
— The companies want to close the labor cost gap with workers at plants run by foreign automakers. GM pays $63 per hour in wages and benefits compared with $50 at the foreign-owned factories. GM's gap is the largest at $13 per hour, according to figures from the Center for Automotive Research.
— Union members have great health insurance plans and workers pay about 4% of the cost. Employees at large firms nationwide pay about 34%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Automakers would like to cut costs.
There is no word, or optimism, as to when the strike could end.
Photos by: Kyle Cornell / WTAM 1100
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