KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) – The United Auto Workers-General Motors strike is capping off four straight weeks with no resolution in sight, with workers continuing to strike for better pay levels, changes to the use of temporary workers and more.
Clarence Brown, the president of UAW Local 31, told KCTV5 News Friday that it’s hard to say how long the strike will last but adds that, as far as he’s concerned, they’re exactly where they were when they first hit the picket line.
Brown said they usually wait for their leader, who’s negotiating the contract, to send down information and give them either good or bad news. Right now, though, he said they don’t have one.
According to a letter to employees, GM presented an offer Monday that the car maker felt “achieved our mutual objectives,” noting the offer would increase compensation, preserve health care benefits and commit to new jobs in the U.S.
The UAW countered with its own release, telling GM, “to stop playing games at the expenses of workers.”
“Healthcare is important. That’s all we’re asking for. Fair wages. Those things are important to us,” Brown told KCTV5 News. “It’s our livelihood. That’s what we ask for. Some people didn’t know until now that we helped build this company out.”
The impasse has patience wearing thin on the strike line.
“This strike is a bummer. This strike is hurting me,” GM worker Jeffery Merson told KCTV5 News. “Can’t speak for everyone else, but I think the attitude is strained. People have bills to pay.”
Despite the toll it is taking on those picketing outside the GM Fairfax plant, most workers said they are more committed than ever to the strike.
“This strike is overdue. This strike should have happened 12 years ago…” Merson added.
With many of the workers feeling the stress and strain of an uncertain financial future, some of their co-workers are making efforts to help those affected by the strike.
“We’re selling decals and all the proceeds go to the food pantry at the union hall here,” GM worker Zachary Routon said, adding that he even had family helping. “My wife is in there cutting hair, she’s donating her time.”
“I have a skill where I can help people with, so why not,” Zachary’s wife Amy Routon said.
Workers affected by the strike like Erin Schank appreciated the generosity and the fact that they could still come together at the union hall.
“I’m extremely appreciative of it and it means the world to me and other members that we can come here and feel welcomed,” Schank said.
Brown knows there’s no telling how long the strike will last.
“I can only tell you what I tell my members,” he said. “I’d be wrong to tell you it’d be another two weeks before we’d have a contract. I’d be wrong to tell you we’d be done in a couple months.
For now, the workers in Fairfax are willing to walk the picket line for as long as it takes.