SEIU Message and Background on GM Strike
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SEIU Support to UAW at GM Background
- SEIU supports the UAW members who are standing up together for fair wages, quality affordable health care, a share of the profits, and a pathway to permanent status for temporary employees.
- When General Motors faced bankruptcy 11 years ago, it was the UAW workers who made the hard choices and sacrifices that saved the company, the automotive industry, and the economy.
- Now, when GM is thriving and making record profits, it isn’t willing to support its employees with fair wages, affordable health care, and job security.
- These are men, women, and families who are fighting for themselves, their family and community to ensure there is a future for American manufacturing in this country. They deserve better.
- After a decade of concessions, it’s time for GM to stop playing games with workers’ lives and present serious proposals to end the strike and get workers back on the job
- When GM heartlessly canceled healthcare benefits for striking workers, SEIU led the public outcry that the corporation was putting the health of workers and their families at risk to boost their profits.
- Because we put pressure on GM, they relented and now will keep healthcare in place for striking workers in an attempt to protect their reputation.
- But we know that’s not nearly enough. After a decade of concessions, it’s time for GM to stop playing games with workers’ lives and present serious proposals to end the strike and get workers back on the job.
Background on Unions for All and the GM Strike
- SEIU members are making a bold demand for Unions for All, calling on all presidential candidates to have economic plans that give every worker the opportunity to join a union, no matter where they work, so they can bargain higher wages, better jobs and a brighter future for their families.
- One key part of the Unions for All demand is empowering workers to win a seat at a national table with employers and government to bargain improvements for hundreds of thousands of workers at a time, across an entire industry.
- The GM strike is important because the auto workers have the closest thing to that kind of “sectoral bargaining” across an entire industry: the contract with GM covers all GM workers who are in the UAW—they don’t bargain one factory at a time. And the GM contract then impacts the Ford and Chrysler contracts that follow, leading to improvements for hundreds of thousands of workers.
- SEIU supports the big, national “sectoral bargaining” that the auto workers are engaged in right now, as we fight to win that kind of power for workers in the service and care sector.
- According to Kate Andrias from the University of Michigan Law School:
Over the last decades, the Big Three have increasingly subcontracted out their work to non-union parts suppliers whose workers earn far less than the union rate. Particularly at the non-union suppliers down South, safety violations are rampant, wages are about 70 cents on the dollar compared to those earned by auto workers in Michigan, and hours are punishing. The Big Three have also hired more temporary workers, who earn lower wages, receive fewer benefits, and lack stable employment.
Meanwhile, foreign automakers like Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen have entered the U.S. market, operating their plants with non-union workers and paying their workers, on average, about $10 less per hour than UAW members receive. The non-union companies rely even more heavily on temporary employees and on parts suppliers with horrendous safety records.
Whatever contract the UAW members and GM eventually reach, it is unlikely to solve the downward pressure on employment that plagues the auto industry. To address that, and to secure the future of good jobs generally, we need a labor law system that guarantees bargaining rights for all workers in the sector.
Background on Trump and the GM Strike
- There have been rumors of the president getting involved to help end the strike, but the White House, GM and the UAW have said that those reports are false.
- All of the major Democratic candidates for president have issued public support for the striking GM workers, and many have shown up on the picket lines with workers who have been striking: GM workers, Shop and Stop grocery store workers, McDonald’s workers, airport workers and others.
- President Trump has not shown up on any picket lines—not with the GM workers or any workers. He has flown over the picket lines to attend big-dollar fundraisers with the CEOs and billionaires who are leading the attacks on unions and pushing wages down for working people.
- President Trump’s record as president has been anti-union, anti-worker, and pro-CEO. He has nominated anti-workers judges to the Supreme Court who have made it much more difficult for workers to join together in unions, and reversed all of President Obama’s pro-worker, pro-union rules.
- President Trump has tried to divide and distract working people by scapegoating immigrants for all of our problems, while he gives huge tax breaks to billionaires and tries to take healthcare away from millions of Americans.