DETROIT – Thousands of United Auto Workers walked off the job at General Motors plants around the country Monday in the first nationwide strike against the U.S. auto industry since 1976.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said that job security was the top unresolved issue, adding that the talks did not stumble over a groundbreaking provision establishing a UAW-managed trust that will administer GM’s retiree health care obligations. Gettelfinger complained about “one-sided negotiations.”
“It was going to be General Motors’ way at the expense of the workers,” Gettelfinger said at a news conference. “The company walked right up to the deadline like they really didn’t care.”
Gettelfinger added that the union and GM’s management would return to the table Monday.
Workers walked off the job and began picketing Monday outside GM plants after the late morning UAW strike deadline passed. The UAW has 73,000 members who work for GM at 82 U.S. facilities, including assembly and parts plants and warehouses.
General Motors Corp. had been pushing hard in the negotiations for the health care trust – known as a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA – so it could move $51 billion in unfunded retiree health costs off its books.
GM has nearly 339,000 retirees and surviving spouses.