Updated Sept. 17, 2019 at 10:20 a.m.
With the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors entering day two, the union says it’s focused on a new contract that would bring members back to work. However one Indiana union representative sees the strike as a bigger issue for American workers.
UAW officials say they’re negotiating for fair terms in wages, healthcare and temporary workers.
Rich LeTourneau is the shop chairman of UAW Local 2209 near Fort Wayne. He says the strike sends a message to the whole country.
“The message that the UAW is sending to the whole country is that, you know, auto workers around the world, not just auto workers, factory workers, American workers cut themselves short every single day,” says LeTourneau. “American workers are entitled to the same things we are. We’re fortunate because we have the opportunity to strike to get them.”
While the company has shut down a number of plants around the country, GM announced in May it would invest $24 million into the Fort Wayne plant.
LeTourneau says he feels optimistic about contract negotiations due in part to the good relationship the union has with the company at the Fort Wayne plant.
“I think collective bargaining for us is gonna to be positive. We got a great plant, we got great investments and we deliver. This membership delivers every time,” he says.
Some picketers at the Fort Wayne Assembly plant want the company to hire more of its temp workers full time.
Dozens of union members waved signs during their four-hour shift on the picket line Monday as cars drive by and honk outside Indiana’s largest GM facility.
Lucy Esparza has worked at the plant for nearly two decades. She says the company’s reliance on temporary workers to cut costs is unfair.
“I mean we have temps in here that have been here two or three years and they’re not hired in,” Esparza says. “You know, like obviously GM needs these bodies; they need these people working here and I think it’s only fair and square that they get hired in.”
According to company figures, the plant employs about 4,500 workers.
UAW workers at GM facilities in Bedford, Kokomo and Marion also joined the strike. The last time UAW workers went on strike against GM was in 2007.
GM released a statement Monday saying negotiations have resumed and the company hopes to reach an agreement beneficial to employees and the business.
This story has been updated.