News Release

Last Year Teachers, Now GM Strike

Last Year Teachers, Now GM Strike

MIKE ELK, mike.elk at gmail.com, @MikeElk

Elk is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report and with reporting being co-published by The American Prospect. He was just in Ohio and is now in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Elk writes: “With union popularity on the rise, the strike is likely to galvanize massive public support, as the wave of teachers strikes did more than a year ago.

“The strike at GM could put Trump in a box on whose side to take. When campaigning for office in 2016, Trump pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt, and he has chastised GM CEO Mary Barra in the past for plant closings. However, Trump has taken to Twitter in the past to blame UAW leaders for those closings as well.

“The strike also has the potential to revive the UAW, which has been marred in a series of corruption scandals. Recently, five top UAW officials were convicted for accepting bribes from auto employers, in exchange for concessions at the bargaining table, and the FBI raided the home of UAW President Gary Jones in August.

“Many union-ambivalent workers cited the corruption scandal in UAW’s recent unsuccessful attempt to unionize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in June. The union lost by a mere 29 votes and many anti-union workers interviewed by Payday Report said they were skeptical, given the corruption scandal, that the UAW would stand up for them.

“A successful strike at General Motors could persuade UAW members that the union is willing to take significant risks to fight on behalf of its members, potentially opening the door to more organizing in the anti-union South, where many auto plants have migrated.

“’We are the architects of showing a better way, showing the light and that’s what I think would be really beneficial if UAW was successful,’ says UAW staff representative Mark Barbee.

“At General Motors’ Rochester plant, where 99.5 percent of workers voted to authorize the strike, Maloney says that his union is willing to go the distance to stand up against General Motors’ demands.
“With the company and the union very far apart on agreeing to a new contract, it’s unclear how long the strike will go on. However, on the picket line in Rochester, workers seem to be excited.”

Elk’s recent pieces at Payday Report include: “WATCH: UAW Kid Denied Cancer Treatment After GM Cuts off Healthcare,” “WATCH: Black Vietnam Vet on How the UAW Helped Him Overcome Addiction,” and “New York Times Cites Our Coverage of GM Strike.”