MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — As workers from the General Motors (GM) assembly plant in Spring Hill wrapped up the second day of their strike on Sunday, union leaders said United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1853 members are prepared to strike long term, if needed.
GM’s Spring Hill facility is the company’s largest manufacturing plant in North America, employing nearly 4,000 workers.
UAW members told News 2 they are fighting for equal pay, as opposed to a tier system; better wages; and pre-2009 benefits, similar to what employees had before GM declared bankruptcy.
UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford told News 2 his members are striking after years of record-breaking earnings for company.
“You guys are all making record profits, we’re doing the blood sweat and tears. Our men and women are working, building product, we just want a little piece of the pie,” Rutherford explained.
Spring Hill GM employees joined the picket line with at least 14,000 other workers across the country currently on strike.
“Trying to get everybody at that equal pay scale, you know, temporary work,” Rutherford said. “Right now, they could keep them for years as temps, we’re trying to get that…so they get permanence and they’re not temps for two, three years.”
According to Rutherford, production will come to a screeching halt not just in Spring Hill, but also across the country, with few assembly plants still running.
Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman said the strike has a major local impact as well, with the facility being a major heartbeat within the Middle Tennessee community.
“Four thousand families are affected by this strike, so it is a big deal to Spring Hill, not just for the families and the individual staff that is striking, but also where they go to spend their money, on the mom and pop shops, so it affects them, as well,” Hagaman told News 2.
However long the strike takes, Hagaman hopes the union and GM can come up with long-term solutions.
“I’m former military, I’m a preemptive strike guy, and that is a strategy that works well, and so my hope is that the takeaway from this, whenever it ends, that management and the union representatives can get together, and when this comes across again the table, that they can overt that and just go to negotiations so this does not happen again,” Hagaman explained.
Rutherford said members are willing to strike as long as it takes to secure a good contract, which means it could be a while before assembly lines return to normal for Cadillac SUVs, including the all-electric LYRIQ, and the GMC Acadia, all produced in Spring Hill.
“Last time, it was a 44-day strike, you know, nationwide. This is our second day, but we’ve been on it. Other plants have been out for six weeks right now, so it’s over 40 days, so I think this is like the last kick, they’re trying to put them over the edge, you know, walking out their big money makers — Texas, Spring Hill, and maybe Flint, maybe in the future — so, I think they’re trying to get just a little bit, get them over the edge a little bit, get what we need to get back,” Rutherford told News 2.
For now, local UAW workers will receive $500 a week in strike pay.
GM issued the following statement on Saturday, Oct. 28 in response to the strike’s expansion to Spring Hill:
“We are disappointed by the UAW’s action in light of the progress we have made. We have continued to bargain in good faith with the UAW, and our goal remains to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”