Fairfax plant workers optimistic they’ll strike a deal, concerns rise over unemployment pay

Fairfax plant workers optimistic they’ll strike a deal, concerns rise over unemployment pay
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 9:03 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - General Motors does not expect to restart or provide the Fairfax plant employees supplemental pay until the strike ends.

The Associated Press reports GM is making these changes as the Fairfax plant shutdown operations Wednesday, days after the UAW strike started in Wentzville and other plants across the country.

About 2,000 employees at the plant in Kansas City, Kansas have stopped operations due to the strike in Wentzville and are on standby about when they can go back inside.

Fairfax plant spokesperson Brian Harvey said Wednesday, “This is due to a shortage of critical stampings supplied by Wentzville’s stamping operations to Fairfax. The team members at Fairfax are not expected to return until the situation has been resolved. Due to the specific circumstances of this situation, impacted employees are not eligible for company-provided Sub-pay.”

GM does not think the Fairfax plant workers are eligible for “SUB-pay.” SUB-pay is a GM benefit provided to eligible hourly employees that supplement State Unemployment and other income up to 74% of their weekly base salary.

The UAW is seeking wage increases of more than 30% over four years among other incentives for long-term employees. The union said workers deserve a bigger share of record profits as prices rose due to consumer demand and a limited supply of vehicles because of chip shortages and other issues. The companies said they can’t afford to meet the UAW’s demands because they must invest those profits to help them make the transition to electric vehicles.

“We didn’t know it was going to happen [Wednesday]. We figured it was going to happen eventually, but it came as a surprise, given 20 minutes until it was time to go,” said UAW Local 31 Vice President Tony Pryor.

Pryor said they are following UAW President Shawn Fain and they’ll be ready to get off the bench and go to work when that call comes.

It’s unsettling for Brandon Crabtree, a Fairfax plant worker for 21 years, who is waiting to see how he is going to get money -- like many others.

“We’re not really sure if the state is going to pay us. This is uncharted territory for our union, so they are still sorting things out, too, because it’s new for them, but I know they’ll come up with something and everything will be alright,” said Crawford.

Pryor said, “This isn’t our first contract, right? We were on strike four years ago. Local 31, we’re prepared. We’ve been preparing for this for a while.”

Harvey said they will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

READ MORE: Fairfax GM Assembly operations idled due to UAW targeted strike at St. Louis-area plant