LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – UAW members and supporters gathered Friday at the idled General Motors plant in Lordstown.
Close to 100 people stood outside Gate 3 of the plant, overlooking a large sign on the building that reads “Lordstown – Home of the Cruze.”
Wearing t-shirts in support of the autoworkers union that is now into the first week of a strike, the group is hoping the two sides can come together soon.
At stake are the wages and benefits of thousands of employees, as well as the future of the shuttered plant in Lordstown, among other facilities.
Union officials said earlier this week that some progress has been made at the negotiating table, but the two sides are still far apart.
Adding fuel to an already explosive situation, GM announced it will drop health care benefits for striking workers beginning Tuesday. The UAW has promised to provide medical assistance for employees through money the union keeps in its coffers for strike benefits, however, that expense is likely to cause a hardship on the fund.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that a General Motors offer to invest $7 billion in U.S. facilities includes $2 billion from joint ventures and suppliers for new plants that would pay workers less than the top union wage, a person briefed on the matter said.
The $2 billion investment from entities other than GM is important because those factories would not be run as typical GM plants. Although workers at those facilities would be represented by the UAW, they would be paid far less than the full UAW wage of about $30 per hour, said the person, who requested anonymity because details of contract talks are confidential.
The union wants to add jobs that pay the top UAW wage.
The offer is a major issue that could get in the way of a deal between the UAW and the company to end the nationwide strike.
About 49,000 UAW workers have been on picket lines since Monday in a contract dispute about wages, health care costs, profit sharing, job security and other issues.