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UAW members receive strike pay as walkout stretches to third week

UAW worker on strike
Katie Raymond
Michigan Radio

UAW members at General Motors are getting their first paycheck since going on strike two weeks ago.

The paycheck comes from the union, from the strike fund. Workers who show up on the picket line are entitled to $250 per week.

At the union hall for UAW Local 167 in Wyoming, workers came in and out all day to pick up their first check. The strike pay, which is equivalent to $13,000 per year, won’t be enough to survive on.

“My wife will be ordering propane today,” says Martin Wood, who works at the GM Components Holdings plant here. “That’ll be 300 gallons at a dollar-sixty [per]  gallon, there’s $480 plus tax. So it’s not even going to pay my propane bill at home.”

Wood says his family was able to save money before the strike to help them make it through.

Chad Fox, another worker at the plant, says his savings isn’t nearly enough to keep him going.

“Figure it out,” he says, when asked what he’ll do about rent, car insurance and other bills.  “I have to, so. ‘Cause the strike needed to happen.”

Fox says he’s holding out for UAW negotiators to win more protections for temporary workers. He says he spent 11 months as a temporary worker, making less than $16 per hour. During one stretch, Fox says he worked 27 days in a row.

“They could make you do 12 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he says. “To not have any time off, there was some pressure there.”

He says he’s hoping future temp employees would be converted to full employees within 90 days.  He says he’ll support the strike – and get a part-time job if necessary – until the union leadership gets GM to agree to it.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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