WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Tuesday marked the second day of picketing as about 49,000 General Motors employees strike.
The United Auto Workers is angling for higher wages and better benefits as employees’ share of the auto giant’s multibillion-dollar profits. They say GM owes them for concessions they made during the recession.
As contract negotiations continue, Democrats in Washington are placing themselves firmly on workers’ side.
“The workers feel they’re not valued by the corporate side,” Sen. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said. “If you adjust for inflation, they’re making less money than they made 10 years ago.”
“GM workers gave up a lot at the bargaining table 10 years ago to keep this company afloat — as taxpayers helped, too — and they owe something to their workers,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, noted.
Democrats criticized GM for moving jobs from Michigan and Ohio to other nations, noting in particular the plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that GM shuttered.
“They want to know that GM’s not going to close anymore plants,” Dingell said of the strikers.
“Whenever there’s an opportunity for new production, that production should be in the United States,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., agreed.
GM reportedly did make some concessions Monday, offering up wage increases, thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in investments, though talks broke off for the night without an agreement.
“I think it takes both sides,” Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., said Tuesday of reaching a deal.
A former union steel worker, he said he understands workers’ grievances. But he said he also sees GM’s side as it navigates the advent of new technologies like electric cars and a slowdown in sales.
“They (workers) have to understand all that goes on in making sure that that company thrives,” Walberg said.
Dingell said it could be a long strike.
“If this continues through the week, I’ll be back on the picket line with them,” she said.