UAW industrial janitors strike at Flint Assembly as General Motors workers drive to work.
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FLINT – In an emotional scene Sunday morning, UAW passed the picketing carmakers represented by the same trade union just hours after maintenance workers went on strike in an escalation of already tense contract talks.

"This is not what solidarity looks like," one autoworker said as he fed the caretakers before reporting on his shift, which started just before 7am

Autoworkers is General Motors employees and UAW asked them to report to work Sunday even though the union's contract with GM expired at 11:59 pm Saturday. The union's leadership would meet at 10 a.m. Sunday in Detroit to decide on the next step.

The janitors work for Aramark, as GM contracts for maintenance at five plants in Michigan and Ohio. Around 850 UAW-represented Aramark workers sent on strike at midnight.

Autoworkers sobbed, provided food and drink, and cursed about the situation then more than a dozen janitors stacked outside the facility, making highly profitable Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. An autoworker appeared to be on the verge of tears when he went to work.

"They have separated us from GM," said Jon Lyttle, 36, of Flint, one of the janitors. "We are a union. Everything has to be done together. We must be brothers and sisters.

" I am happy with the union and fighting for my rights, "he added." I'm glad to be a part of this story. "

Adrian" Sparty "Jones, 58, of Flint said autoworkers were in a tough spot while waiting for directions." We're the front line, "she said." The & # 39; I want to join us. "

The caretakers, who have been working without a contract since March 2018, said they will be paid $ 15-16 dollars an hour. UAW, in the announcement of the strike just after midnight, said the caretaker's key involves pay, cap on health insurance, vacation time and 401 (k) plans.


Damon “DJ” Harrison talks about the work Aramark maintenance employees do in the Flint Assembly Plant.
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When UAW negotiated with GM for an autoworker contract, it told Aramark last week that the extension of the contract for the caretakers would end at the same time as the contract with GM expired.

More: UAW-represented caretakers at some GM plants go on strike; impact on car production unclear

More: Major issues facing UAW, Detroit 3 as contract term nears

While the union said Saturday that autoworkers would report for shifts On Sunday, the janitor strike was "a potentially significant escalation," Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at the University of California, Berkley, told Free Press just after midnight.

At least one Authentic in Flint Assembly said he would not cross the janitors' picket line.

"In my opinion, crossing the picket line makes you a crust," said Sean Crawford, who joined the caretaker and then drove to Detroit to be among a small group of UAW protesters gathered outside General Motors headquarters.

He was scheduled to work from 3pm to 3pm, but called in to take a personal day.

"The picket line is sacred, Crawford said." That is the meaning of solidarity. "

Crawford said GM cares about money over workers' welfare." We have people in their 20s who have arthritis because of the repeated the nature of the job on the assembly line, "he said.

Another worker who asked for her name not to be used should work in Flint, but said: "I'm not happy right now. Aramark is upfront. The Union leadership said we have to come here until we find out what happens next the 10th meeting. From now on, we're up and running. "

Steve Gruener, president of UAW Local 659, who represents Flint Assembly workers including the striking janitors, met his team in the union hall opposite Flint Assembly early Sunday. that Finance Secretary Duane Ballard has been on the scene all night. Gruener arrived around 4:30 a.m. At 8:30, he was on his way to Detroit for the Big 10 to learn the next steps.

"Our workers are uphill and they understand why they are striving to get a fair and just contract, "Gruener said.

He arranged a six-hour girl shift.

" I'm kind of melancholy. I do what needs to be done to support members, with food and water really focused right now. This is brand new and we are responding, "he said.

How long the strike lasts is "everything in the company," said Gruener. "We are there to negotiate. We will do what needs to be done to get a fair and just contract for the members."

"I was a little surprised, "he said of the decision of janitors to strike immediately after midnight." But I fully support our leadership. "

Janitor Jobs

John Wineland, 31, of Grand Blanc, said the maintenance worker's job is dangerous, and offers the example of what it takes to clean equipment that drives trucks through the factory's paint shop.

"If we get hit with the water, we will get an infection," he said. Water pressure is such "it can literally cut your foot off.

" Blasting is a two-man job. A person bursts, a person sits outside in a safe zone to call for help should anything happen to shut off the water. "


John Wineland, 31, of Grand Blanc said maintenance workers' jobs are dangerous.
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Added Carl Shehorn III, 40, of Burton, "We fight for our rights and future generations. We are underpaid. We make $ 15 an hour. We maintain our equipment. We maintain their robots and the conveyor belt. I am the fourth generation to work at this factory. "

Aramark employees work is key to operating the factory, but GM said they had contingency plans to avoid production disruptions.

Aramark manages service jobs at five GM sites: Flint Assembly, Flint Engine Operations, Flint Metal Center; Metal Center Parma, Ohio and Technical Center in Warren.

Signs outside the Flint Assembly Plant early Sunday announce that Aramark maintenance workers are on strike there and at four other General Motors locations. (Photo: Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press)

Autoworker talks

As for the autoworker contract with GM, the UAW management told members Saturday that there were "significant differences" over important issues and negotiations continue until the deadline.

In a letter sent to union officers Saturday night, Terry Dittes, vice president of the UAW General Motors Department, said the contract with GM would not be extended, but no immediate autoworker strike was envisaged.

"No decisions or actions will be taken" until after a national council meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. in Detroit, the letter states.

In the letter obtained by Free Press, Yours reported "some progress" in the negotiations since his last update nine days ago.

However, "We still have many outstanding cases remaining, including significant differences between the parties regarding wages, healthcare, temporary staff, job security and profit sharing."

General Motors said in a statement: "We continue to work We are prepared to negotiate around the clock because there are thousands of GM families and their communities – and many thousands more at our dealers and suppliers – and trust us for their livelihoods. "[19659005] UAW, which represents nearly 150,000 hourly workers at GM, Ford and FCA, has chosen to negotiate a new contract first with GM. That deal will serve as a template for UAW's subsequent talks with the other two.

UAW local leaders have described to members the steps to follow if asked to strike.

Corruption probe

The talks are based on a federal corruption investigation that now touches the highest levels of the union. Charges against Regional Director Vance Pearson implicated UAW President Gary Jones and immediate past President Dennis Williams in the abuse of union money.

The union negotiates a new contract with the car manufacturers every four years. In 2015, UAW chose to lead with FCA. If the UAW leadership believes it must strike, the members of all three companies have voted to authorize one.

The negotiations with GM have been methodical. Both sides faced many issues at the table.

UAW's rank and file want a base salary increase. They also seek to protect the benefits and reduce the pay gap between employees hired after 2007 compared to those who have worked at GM before 2007. They also want to establish a plan for temporary employees to be fixed, among other things.

But job security is also critical, given GM's November 2018 announcement that it would be idling at four US plants. UAW has vowed not to turn any stones into battles to get new product to be built in those facilities, which include Lordstown Assembly in Ohio, Detroit-Hamtramck and transmission facilities in Warren and Baltimore. Detroit-Hamtramck is the only one to continue operating, but GM plans to shut it down in January.

GM and other automakers, for their part, seek to control costs amid trade and customs uncertainties, unclear fuel economy standards and a projected economic downturn that could hurt sales. Health care costs are some of the highest for car manufacturers, and there is still a problem.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512 or Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on cars and sign up for cars newsletter . Jamie LaReau contributed to this report.

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