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UAW Strikers React To Tentative GM Deal

UAW picket line photo
Scott Pohl
The UAW picket line remains up at Tony M's in Delta Township.

United Auto Workers Union members are starting to consider the details of the tentative agreement reached with General Motors on Thursday.

The UAW strike against GM is nearing the end of its fifth week, and workers will continue to picket while a ratification vote is conducted.

UAW Local 602 represents workers at Lansing’s Delta Assembly facility. One of their picketing sites is the parking lot at Tony M’s, a banquet hall not far from the plant.

Ten-year GM worker John requested not to use his last name. For him, the deal’s ratification bonuses and pay increases the international union is now trying to sell to its members aren’t the main issues. “I think a lot of us weren’t necessarily looking for wage gains," John says. "We were looking to have a life again. We work tons of hours. Saturdays; some of us work Sundays, and one day off a week, you don’t get much time with your family, so I think that’s about it.”

The contract includes four percent lump sum payments in the first and third years, and three percent pay hikes in years two and four. It also includes a ratification bonus of $11,000 for senior employees and $4,500 for temporary workers.

The path for those temporary workers to becoming fully vested is a sticking point for John. He was once a temp himself. “To be a temporary worker for three years is outrageous," he states. "I feel bad for these people. We work right along with them and then they get treated like crap.”

Brenda Kocinski has worked for GM for 22 years. She says she’s also worried about how this tentative contract treats temporary employees. “I was a temp back in the day, in the 90s, okay, and it didn’t take me that long to become permanent, and it didn’t take me that long to get up to wage," Kocinski explains. "I believe this is our future, because they are our future, and it’s very important that they are our equal.”

When it comes to work hours and the treatment of temps, John says he will need some persuading. He says that at this point, his vote would be a "hard no."

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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