UAW labor strike: Picketers block Michigan GM plant

Sept. 16 (UPI) — Striking employees of General Motors used their bodies and vehicles to block all entrances to the automaker’s Flint Assembly Plant Monday, several hours into a United Auto Workers labor walkout.

Vehicles lined up on roads around the plant and picketers walked with signs on nearby Interstate 75, causing traffic to come to a virtual standstill.

Entrance gates to the plant were locked and chained Monday, forcing traffic to be rerouted.

More than 48,000 workers are striking to demand fair wages, affordable healthcare and job security.

Contract talks between GM and the UAW have been going for 18 months. The UAW contract expired Sunday and the strike started at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The two sides were scheduled to meet again Monday, and GM has said it will “negotiate around-the-clock.”

The automaker has offered new solutions for vacant plants in Michigan and Ohio, as well as new investment for eight facilities in four states. GM has also promised new all-electric trucks and the opportunity to become the first union-represented battery cell manufacturing site in the United States.

“We’re telling GM that we’re not backing down,” James Fisette, a fork lift driver, told the Detroit Free Press. “They are trying to get through and our people have been hit four times.”

Engine builder James Bothell said he was bumped by a vehicle trying to enter the plant.

“Thing is, I think most of these people on salary get it — 95 percent are nodding their heads as they pass by Bothell said. “I think a strike is long overdue, to be honest. In 2007, we opened up our contract and gave away a lot of things, like vacation days and cost-of-living increases and holidays.”

Several drivers who attempted to enter the plant said they weren’t replacement workers but were permanent GM employees.

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