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Workers at GM's Willow Run plant join picket line in historic UAW strike

UAW Workers go on strike at Willow Run facility in Belleville
George Weykamp/Michigan Radio
UAW Workers go on strike at Willow Run facility in Belleville

United Auto Workers at General Motors' Willow Run Redistribution Center in Belleville were among those called to walk off the job in a significant escalation of the union's strike against the Detroit Three automakers on Friday.

The walk-off came just hours after UAW President Shawn Fain announcedon Facebook Live that the union would be expanding its strike to 38 GM and Stellantis parts and distribution centers. The union is also striking one Ford plant in Michigan but did not target that company with additional strikes.

Willow Run was one of 13 plants in Michigan that walked off the job as part of the second phase of union's historic "stand-up" strike.

Carolyn Nipa works at Willow Run and said she'd been with GM for 26 years. She said eliminating a tiered wage structure and managing overtime are her biggest priorities for contract negotiations.

"The biggest challenge I have is excessive overtime," Nipa said. "Seven days a week, at least ten hours a day. It's not a very good work-family situation."

Some of the workers expressed concern that they would not be able to provide for their families while they are striking.

The union pays striking workers $500 a week out of its approximately $825 million strike fund — significantly less than the average auto worker's typical earnings, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similarly, Nashaia Brown said she's concerned about no longer receiving her normal wages while Willow Run is on strike.

"I honestly am scared financially because we won't obviously get paid the normal amount that we would get paid during the week," Brown said. "I'm going from 45-50 hours of work a week, to [strike] pay."

The union has been on strike against the Detroit Three automakers since September 15.

George Weykamp is a senior at the University of Michigan studying business law and history. He was the 2022 University Editor at The Michigan Daily where he oversaw coverage of the first firing of a University President in over a century as well as a historic sexual misconduct settlement.
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