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73,000 GM Autoworkers On Strike for More Job Security

Melissa McEwan: "It's our duty. It's the only power we have," says Eric Lehtonen, 50, who works at the Lansing Grand River assembly plant.
 
 
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This post, written by Melissa McEwan, originally appeared on Shakesville

For the first time in 37 years:

UAW officials said the 73,000 UAW members who work at about 80 U.S. facilities for the nation's largest automaker didn't strike Monday over what many thought would trip up the talks: A plan to shift the retiree health care burden from the company to the union. They said they also didn't strike over wages.

They said union members walked out because they want GM to promise that future cars and trucks such as the replacement for the Chevrolet Cobalt small car or the still-on-the-drawing board Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car will be built at U.S. plants, preserving union jobs.

The strike puts GM, which is restructuring so it can better compete with Asian automakers, in a bind as some of its new products begin to catch on with consumers. But it also means workers are taking a big risk -- giving up pay and slowing down GM in an uncertain economy.

Melissa McEwan writes and edits the blog Shakespeare's Sister .

 
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