46,000 GM Employees Ready to Strike After UAW Contract Expires Without New Deal

UAW representatives claim that GM has failed to offer better wages and affordable quality health care despite $8.1 billion in profits last year.

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After its contract with General Motors expired Saturday at midnight, the United Auto Workers union has announced its members will strike against the vehicle manufacturer with 46,000 employees expected to indefinitely sit out their shifts in protest. This is the first nationwide UAW strike since 2007.

As USA Today notes, this strike does not include Fiat Chrysler or Ford workers as their contracts were extended with plans of a GM agreement acting as a template for future negotiations. 

The UAW made its announcement after meeting with GM union officials Sunday morning near the automaker's Detroit headquarters. Approximately 175 local union leaders voted unanimously to strike, a move which UAW National Bargaining Committee Chairman Ted Krumm described as representing "tens of thousands of UAW members who are sacrificing their comfort and future to stand up and do what’s right."

"While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard-working Americans ahead of their record profits," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes added in a statement. "We don't take this lightly."

GM reported $8.1 billion in profits for 2018.

The automaker released a statement saying that it offered more than $7 billion in American investments over a proposed four-year period, with over 5,400 jobs and increased pay. The company also vowed to retain "nationally leading health care benefits" while providing solutions to the "unallocated" assembly plants which made headlines late last year. Closures of the manufacturer's Lordstown, Ohio facility as well as its Detroit-Hamtramck location caused heated debate between GM and the UAW with the issue continuing to be a hot-button issue in contract discussions.

“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight," GM said. "We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.” 

The strike is set to officially go into effect just before midnight Sunday.