General Motors moves UAW members to COBRA health care until strike is resolved

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DETROIT (WJRT) (9/17/2019) - UAW members at General Motors are asked to sign up for COBRA health care plans as a nationwide strike involving 49,000 workers stretches into a second day.

UAW members picket outside a General Motors facility in Swartz Creek on the first day of a nationwide strike.

GM advised workers they will need to obtain COBRA health care paid for the the United Auto Workers strike fund until a new labor agreement is reached.

Negotiators were back at the bargaining table Tuesday morning.

Workers on picket lines outside GM's manufacturing complex in Flint were unfazed by the change in health care benefits 36 hours into the strike. They say they are dug in for the long haul to receive the compensation they believe they deserve from GM.

"With this being such a pivotal point in the contract, I can do it as long as necessary because it's sacrificing the time I've put in thus far," said GM employee Ray Carter Wilson. "This is a long-term thing for me."

Health care benefits appear to be a key sticking point in the contract negotiations.

Currently, hourly workers are paying 3 to 4 percent of their health care cost. Sources close to the negotiations told Crain's that GM's initial contract offer to the UAW asked for workers to kick in 15 percent of health care costs.

The national average for employee health care contributions is around 28 percent.

Other sticking points include wages, increased profit sharing, job security and a path to permanent seniority for temporary workers.

More than 50 GM factories and parts warehouses across the country remained closed Tuesday.

GM issued a brief statement on the progress of negotiations Tuesday morning: "Negotiations have resumed. Our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business."

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