Auto Workers Walk Out of GM Plants, Picket-lines go Up.

UAW members started picketing at Hamtramck, Lansing and Orion and other locations when the union's 11 a.m. deadline for a new labor agreement with General Motors Corp. passed.

A news conference is planned at 12:15 p.m. at the UAW's Solidarity House in downtown Detroit.

Carole Garcia, driving out of the Hamtramck plant with a picket sign sticking out of her sunroof, said she supports Ron Gettelfinger and believes executives are overpaid while workers are being asked to make sacrifices.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," she said.

While strikers and sympathizers honked horns, workers streamed out of the plant at their regularly scheduled lunch hour. They hustled to pick up signs and head to their posts at three gates to the plant, which usually makes Buicks and Cadillac DTS sedans.

Greg Kelly, a union members with 29 years at GM, said he doesn't think either side could with stand more than a two-week shutdown, but he is "proud" of his union. "I think it's what we need to be doing," he said.

At 1:40 a.m. this morning, the UAW officially announced that it had set an 11 a.m. strike deadline, which coincides with scheduled lunch breaks at some plants. The two sides continued to negotiate this morning.

Tosa was first walkout at GM since 1998. The 1999 and 2003 national UAW negotiations concluded without a work stoppage at any of the three Detroit automakers.

In 1998, GM vehicle output was shut down nationwide by local strikes at the Flint Metal Center and a Delphi parts plant in Flint. The shut down stopped GM's North American production for 53 days and cost the company $2 billion.

"We're shocked and disappointed that General Motors has failed to recognize and appreciate what our membership has contributed during the past four years," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. "Since 2003, our members have made extraordinary efforts every time the company came to us with a problem: the corporate restructuring, the attrition plan, the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2005 health care agreement. In every case, our members went the extra mile to find reasonable solutions."

GM stock was rising ahead of 11 a.m. strike deadline, up $1.08, or 3%, to $36.02.

"Talks are ongoing. The contract talks involve complex and difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. workforce and the longterm viability of the company," according to a GM statement prior to the walkout. "We are fully commited to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing General Motors. We will continue to focus our efforts on reaching an agreement as soon as possible."

Late last night the UAW told its local leaders that GM had failed to address "job security and other mandatory issues."

"While we have made progress in many areas, GM has failed to address major concerns involving job security and other mandatory issues of bargaining and as such we have reached a point where we must issue the company a notice that we are going to cancel the hour-by-hour extension and set a deadline," UAW's leadership told local leaders in a memo late Sunday evening. Going into the weekend there were signs of progress in the negotiations. GM and the UAW were believed to have reached a general framework for the creation of a special retiree health care trust.

"We have worked very hard and put in numerous hours to bring back a tentative agreement that you would be proud to ratify," UAW's leadership said in the memo. "We thought we would be able to accomplish this no later than this weekend, but our efforts have been to no avail."

Last night, the UAW notified its local leaders of the 11 a.m. strike deadline and said "unless you hear otherwise from your International Union and Local Union leadership, you should consider yourself on strike at 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, September 24, 2007."

This morning Tiny Sherwood, the chairman UAW Local 652 representing Lansing Delta Township Assembly, who'd had a bottle of champagne on his desk and a picket sign, received a telephone call from a union representative in Detroit that sent him into action.

"I just talked to him and he asked if anyone told me not to strike. I said no. He's said there's no hold," Sherwood told the Free Press.

Workers at GM's Ypsilanti Service Parts Operation walked off the line about two minutes after 11, moved their cars off the company lot and returned across the street to picket.

AlterNet is making this material available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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