Automaker General Motors (GM) prematurely cut off American union workers’ healthcare benefits amid strikes against the multinational corporation.
In total, about 46,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) members are on strike against GM to ensure new hires are paid higher wages and provided with better healthcare benefits after accepting concessions on these fronts a decade ago.
Last week, union workers were notified that their healthcare payments had been halted by GM because of the strike. Though GM executives have claimed that cutting off healthcare payments for union workers during a strike is standard practice, typically union workers’ healthcare plans continue but the UAW pays the costs.
This time around, though, GM’s cutting off of healthcare payments means union workers will have to re-enroll in their healthcare plans once the strike is over. In the meantime, vision and dental healthcare payments will not be covered during the strike.
In an interview with Payday Report, UAW Local 1005 Chairman Al Tiller explained how GM’s cutting off of healthcare payments for union workers led to one worker’s child going without cancer treatment.
“We’re supposed to have our benefits until the end of the month,” Tiller said. “The company decided they were going to cut them yesterday before the union was ready to take over with our strike fund. We had a couple members sick that couldn’t get treated. We got a member with … kid has cancer, went to get his treatment and couldn’t get it. So we don’t have $10,000 to put down and get reimbursed for it. We’re on strike.”
“They cut our benefits and its affecting our families, our kids,” Tiller continued. “This isn’t a company that cares about people. This is a company that cares about the dollar. And there’s another example right there. They don’t care about this kid with cancer and his treatment, they just want us to pay for it.”
WATCH: UAW Local 1005 Chairman Al Tiller on a union member's kid whose cancer treatment was cancelled cuz GM cut off their healthcare in retaliation for striking pic.twitter.com/cg5qTuFwu0
— Mike Elk (@MikeElk) September 18, 2019
In an op-ed published last week, Patrick Anderson, a 25-year GM employee, said he and his fellow American workers are striking because “we’re done sacrificing.”
[Mary Barra] probably never experienced what my child experienced in my 25 years in the auto industry with GM. Because I have had to work in six plants in three states, my family has moved twice, and my child has changed schools and watched her father worry about what uncertainty was going to come next thanks to GM. I can’t help but think that maybe if her family had to experience what my family has gone through, then maybe she would be handling the workforce decisions differently. [Emphasis added]
The fact is that when GM was down, we sacrificed. Now that GM is thriving, the company is trying to hurt us with reduced wages, cuts to health care and fewer benefits. [Emphasis added]
The strike comes as GM CEO Mary Barra idled the 78-year-old Warren Transmission plant, leaving about 335 American workers laid off from their jobs. In the long-run, analysts predict that the plant’s closure will leave 16,000 American workers laid off from their jobs in the region.
The Warren, Michigan layoffs came after 1,600 American workers were laid off in Lordstown, Ohio, where GM idled their assembly plant. That plant’s closure, alone, could leave more than 8,000 Americans in supporting industries in the area laid off.
Meanwhile, Barra continues earning about $22 million a year — a less than half a percent pay cut despite mass layoffs in the U.S. GM made more than $8 billion in profits last year after taxes.
As Breitbart News’ John Carney noted, the UAW strike against GM is just one component of growing signs that economic power is increasingly in the hands of employees rather than employers in President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” economy.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.