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Workers are leaving the Flint Assembly plant while participating in a national strike against General Motors after stopping contract negotiations with GM.
Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

Detroit is being monitored.

The battle between hourly factory workers and a multimillion-dollar global company provides a glimpse of what the future can bring for technology workers and technology leaders, Silicon Valley experts say.

"People see Detroit as a model for how to unite and collectively mobilize against leadership," said Margaret O. & Mar; author of "The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America" ​​and a professor in history at the University of Washington.

<img itemprop = "url" src = "https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/09/27/PDTF/1b56a90f-efd3-4ed7-bf24-9d216cb9a468-092519_drive_by_support_rg_36.jpg?width = 540 & height = & fit = bounds & auto = webp "alt =" A woman is waving out the window while showing support for UAW members on strike against General Motors outside Flint Assembly while driving along Van Slyke Road in Flint on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 [19659007] A woman is waving out the window while showing support for UAW members on strike against General Motors outside Flint Assembly while driving along Van Slyke Road in Flint on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

"There are some commonalities," she said. "Workers at General Motors say, 'Look, you swim in profits, and you shouldn't cut our health care. We need to be more like partners in this.' workers at these very large technology companies say, "##; Hi, you, you are swimming in profits. You have all these contract senses Do not treat you fairly or as full employees and give them benefits. We don't like what you're doing, and we're going to push back. & # 39; "

In fact, a key point of the union's talks with GM is what to do with thousands of" temporary "workers earning just over half the wages of workers standing next to them. Full-time workers are struggling for those UAW members who have no clear path to permanent jobs.

As 46,000 hours of automotive workers end their second week on strike across the country, stopping 55 GM sites in 10 states, the UAW is on the rise as an example of what a $ 800 million strike fund can do, it has budgeted $ 250 a week in strike pay for members and did not resign from its positions when the opponent announced on strike on day 2 a decision to switch GM health care coverage to COBRA – which would be paid for by Detroit-based international union, after several days of criticism, GM backed in that move.

& # 39; Bad rap & # 39;

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs known for novation says UAW-GM contract negotiations can play a key role in deciding whether income inequality and division continue to grow between workers and top employees.

Jared Fliesler, who held senior positions at Google and worked with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the early days to grow the $ 25 billion business it is today, is among those closely watching.

"It sounds like the employees in good financial positions are lifting their employees and taking a stand for justice, even when the fight is not their own. And I think it's fantastic, ”says Fliesler, who in 2013, at 28 years old, was the youngest partner in a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

“Unions often get a bad rap. But there is a time and a place and a reason why they were formed. This is the time and place, "said Fliesler, now CEO of Scrid, a subscription-based service that has been compared to Netflix for readers.

Google unionizing

" I look at Detroit and see GM workers on strike, said historian O & # 39; Mara. "Then I have people call me to say that Google entrepreneurs unite in Pittsburgh. The common thread is that this larger public conversation is about the power of companies – of which CEO pay is part of it – and the power of workers. "

As the economy grows and the stock market thrives, real income remains flat, she said. "People feel like & # 39; OK, it's a boom and I'm left behind. People really feel the injustice of it all. & # 39; You see it in technology and you see it in Detroit. [19659019] Professor Margaret O. & Mar; a historian based at the University of Washington, said Detroit and Silicon Valley have more in common than people realize, this photo was taken in downtown Seattle in October 2018. ” width=”540″ data-mycapture-src=”https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/09/27/PDTF/d489e585-e5a4-4aac-86a0-84dca826a556-CatherineOmara.jpg” data-mycapture-sm-src=”https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/09/27/PDTF/d489e585-e5a4-4aac-86a0-84dca826a556-CatherineOmara.jpg?width=500&height=333″/>

Professor Margaret O. Mara, a historian based at the University of Washington, said that Detroit and Silicon Valley have more in common than people realize, this photo was taken in downtown Seattle in October 2018. (Photo: Jim Garner)