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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

GM And UAW Announce Tenative Agreement Amid Calls For Washington Intervention

Alec Gerstenberger
A United Auto Worker strikes outside of the Lansing Grand River assembly plant in the first week of the strike.

The United Autoworkers strike against General Motors is now in its fifth week. By some estimates workers have lost more than six hundred million in wages. Now, the UAW has announced they've reached a tentative agreement with GM.

This comes after calls by some analysts, raising alarms that states like Michigan with a highly concentrated auto industry are hemorrhaging money.

Patrick Anderson is the CEO of Anderson Economic group in East Lansing. His firm has been releasing estimates on how much GM and workers are losing.

He said late Tuesday if the strike isn’t resolved in forty-eight hours, it’s time for Washington to intervene using the Taft-Hartley Act to force workers back on the job.

“To do something that encourages these people to get back to work and get our economy back moving again. Because it’s simply costing people in Michigan and Ohio and other states like that, that have auto employment too much money, too many jobs.”

Anderson detailed his concerns in a letter to Michigan Representatives Fred Upton (MI-06) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12), asking the lawmakers to make an appeal to President Donald Trump.

He gave the example of a smaller strike where Taft-Hartley was used as federal intervention, when President George W. Bush forcibly ended the shutdown of West Coast ports in 2002.

Anderson said while the right to resolve the strike ultimately rests with labor leadership and top UAW brass, as well as top negotiators from GM the clock is ticking as Michigan inches toward what he’s projecting could be a “one-state recession.”

“I think ample time was two weeks and we’re already in the fifth week. The law exists for an emergency like this. We have one. We need to consider using it if nothing happens within the next 48 hours,” he said.

According to estimates from the Anderson Economic group the strike has impacted 175,000 workers who are either furloughed or losing wages as a result of the five week long strike. Analysts estimate 17,000 of the 49,000 striking UAW workers reside in Michigan.

For now, both sides are still entrenched as losses pile up. Local union brass has been called back to Detroit early Thursday for a meeting, and GM’s CEO Mary Barra briefly participated in negotiations early this week.

“But this is a strike that has already cost six hundred million in lost wages. It already affects 175,000 workers. Under the law the president can intervene and basically force them to resolve differences that are affecting the entire economy.”

Despite news of a tentative agreement, the strike is not over. Workers will remain on strike until a contract is voted on by leadership Thursday, or until the local chapters ratify the new contract.

In a statement, the UAW’s top negotiator Terry Dittes said “Until the Council reviews and votes to approve the proposed tentative agreement the strike will continue. During the October 17 meeting, the Council will decide whether to continue the strike until ratification concludes or to stop the strike at the time of the Council’s approval of the agreement.”

The specifics of what the new contract holds will not be revealed until Thursday’s meeting according to the statement from the UAW.

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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