FLINT (WJRT) (9/16/2019) - Negotiations between General Motors and the United Auto Workers were scheduled to pick up again Monday morning.
Thousands of UAW members went on strike at the General Motors manufacturing complex in Flint at midnight on Monday.
GM workers in Flint were among 49,000 workers who went on strike early Monday morning.
The protest shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses. It was the first national strike by the UAW since a two-day walkout in 2007.
The union said it was concerned about issues including wages, plant closures, profit sharing and health care.
"We need our health. They have health benefits up there. They get taken care of for life. We're down here working 30 plus years to support our families," said Kevin Clary. "They want to keep take, take, take. Our retirees are being taken from and we need to taken care of finally."
Workers began streaming out of the Flint manufacturing complex at midnight. Workers picketed outside nearly every entrance the Flint complex on Monday morning.
Strikers carried green "UAW On Strike" signs and kept up a spirit of optimism.
Union members said they wanted GM to share some of the wealth it accumulated over the past several years and give employees a cut. That includes pay increases, better health care and more job security.
"We're not just going to lay down," said Kevin Smiley. "We are going to fight for what we want, fight for what we believe. It's plain and simple. All of us have families we want to support and we want what we owe."
They hoped the strike can be resolved quickly so workers can get back on the job and continue building heavy duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks that are in high demand.
Meanwhile, GM said in a statement it had made a strong offer to the UAW, including higher wages and $7 billion worth of factory investments that would create hundreds of new jobs.
The investments would come to eight facilities in four states and create 5,400 jobs. They include retooling some plants to produce new electric pickup trucks and propulsion systems, according to a company statement.
The company also offered workers undisclosed pay raises over all four years of the contract, a more beneficial profit sharing formula, an $8,000 ratification payment and quality health care benefits.
The negotiations restarted at 10 a.m. in Detroit.
A top United Auto Workers official is telling General Motors that if the company had made its latest offer earlier, the union may not have gone on strike, according to the Associated Press.
The letter from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes to GM's chief bargainer says the company waited to make the offer until two hours before the contract expired Friday night. He says it would have been possible to reach an agreement and avoid a strike if the company moved sooner.
While on strike, UAW members receive $50 a day from the union after the eighth day. Some health and prescription drug benefits also are available from the union's strike assistance fund.
Most states deny unemployment benefits to union members during a strike.