(7/27/11 -- ) In Mid-Michigan, GM's UAW workers and retirees are paying close attention to the negotiations in Detroit. Many hope they get back what was lost during the last round of labor talks in 2007.
Wednesday morning, while General Motors and the UAW kicked off contract talks in Detroit, Local 599 was celebrating their annual retiree picnic. Attendance was visibly lower than in years past, but some of those in attendance feel a strong sense of better days to come.
Jerry Link, a GM retiree was among those celebrating another year with Local 599. "This time around it should be a little better because everyone is making money and it's time to get our share of the pot again."
During the last round of UAW contract negotiations, Chrysler and GM were on the verge of bankruptcy. Both active workers and retirees made deep concessions. "It was hard but everyone knew at that time to save GM we had to make some gives and we gave up quite a bit." Link said.
Now retirees are asking for compensation since the big three are once again making profits. Bill Lucas is among many living off of a dwindling pension and social security. "It's just vital for us that they do something. They took away our Christmas bonus, that's gone too. We don't know what to expect, the retirees. Hopefully they do the medicare part-B and our Christmas Bonus."
Lucas says the negotiations in Detroit are crucial to his survival. "We're starving, the people that don't have much money." Lucas said.
Grover Douglas, also a GM retiree, agrees. "We sacrificed just as much as anyone else and to leave us out of these negotiations would be terribly wrong"
The current UAW contracts expire September 14th. Talks got underway with Chrysler earlier this week.
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