Saginaw union members 'cautiously optimistic' about tentative deal

Published: Oct. 16, 2019 at 4:47 PM EDT
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(1016/19) - Union members at Saginaw Metal Casting Operations are cautiously optimistic about the tentative deal between the United Auto Workers and General Motors.

UAW Local 668 President Tony Mann said he's excited a deal has been reached, but believes the devil is in the detail.


Mann will be among the first to learn what those details are when he attends a meeting in Detroit Thursday morning. He'll be joined by union presidents and their chairmen or chairwomen from around the country.

Word started to spread about the tentative deal just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Many said the mood was excitement when the news was announced, and they are shifting to anticipation.

They want to find out what their future holds after 31 days on the picket line.

"Last 31 days have been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. Whether it's the unknowing that people worry about, or the excitement of the togetherness as a union. Standing next to your brother or sister on the picket line has definitely brought this local closer together, and I think it's brought the union closer together in general," Mann said.

Union members will remain on the picket line until they get word from much higher up.

Many said while there's a lot they are fighting for, their focus remains on the temporary workers.

Delilah King started as a temporary worker before earning fulltime status.

She said it's tough when you don't get the same benefits as your fulltime counterparts, and are only allowed three unpaid, scheduled days of leave a year, among other struggles.

King hopes the temporary workers earn a path to fulltime in the new, four year deal.

"Do we want to get back to work, yes. But when there's a fair contract, you know we will go back to work. But it's exciting, it's been a long time," King said.

The Saginaw workers said the community's support has been incredible throughout the strike.

From bringing food to those on the picket line, to every honk of support, they are grateful.

"When you first come out you're scared that people think we're spoiled brats and we're just greedy, or we're entitled. But you know we do a hard job in there, and it's a dangerous job. You know people have died on these jobs, you know, so it's very empowering, very humbling to hear the horns blow," said Yonetta Kendall, a UAW Local 668 member. "It gives you hope and gives you the strength that you need to keep coming out here."

Local 668 represents 514 fulltime, temporary and sanitation workers at the Saginaw plant.

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