WASHINGTON – The 46,000 General Motors employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) entered the second full day of a strike Tuesday as negotiators for the company and union returned to the bargaining table.
Picket lines appeared outside of most of GM’s 55 facilities in the United States.
Those facilities are located in 19 different states.
Dozens of strikers carrying signs gathered outside a GM plant in Arlington, Texas, that employs roughly 4,500 people to assemble SUV models such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.
Operations at the Arlington factory ceased early Monday after the UAW embarked on its first strike since 2007.
The existing collective bargaining agreement between the UAW and the giant automaker expired at midnight Saturday.
The union is demanding higher wages and better health benefits in line with the more than $8 billion in profits GM reaped in 2018.
The UAW also wants GM to limit the use of temporary workers and to abandon plans calling for the shutdown next year of plants in Lordstown, Ohio, Hamtramck and Warren, Michigan, and Baltimore.
GM says that it has enough vehicle inventory on hand to meet consumer demand for 59 days, but industry analysts suggest the strike will cost the company from $50 million to $100 million a day in terms of lost output.
In two months of negotiations, GM and the union reached accord on only 2 percent of the items covered by the collective bargaining agreement, according to the UAW.
A document released Sunday by GM indicated that the company’s latest proposal pledged $7 billion in investment in its US operations over the next four years, resulting in the maintenance or creation of more than 5,400 jobs.
GM presented that offer just a few hours before last Saturday’s deadline, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said.
If the proposal had been submitted earlier, the UAW might not have decided to strike, Dittes said.
“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows US jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight,” GM said in a statement Sunday.
“We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable, quality health care,” Dittes said.