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A history of key United Auto Workers strikes against GM

Posted at 10:30 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 13:30:51-04

A rundown of notable labor events involving the United Auto Workers and General Motors Co. General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal Wednesday:

1936-37: The UAW led "sit-down" strikes at GM plants in Flint, Michigan, and other cities as a protest against pay cuts and poor working conditions. In Flint, hundreds of workers occupied plants and halted production; ultimately 140,000 GM workers in Flint, Cleveland and other cities participated in the 44-day strike. The strike ended when GM agreed to pay raises and recognized the UAW as the workers' exclusive bargaining representative.

1945-46: After the end of a "no-strike" pledge during World War II, the UAW launched a nationwide strike against GM demanding pay raises and overtime. Ultimately, the strike involved 320,000 workers and lasted 113 days. Workers won a pay raise and paid vacations.

1970: The UAW — reeling after the death of its longtime leader Walter Reuther in a plane crash — struck GM for 67 days, idling 400,000 workers. The union won cost-of-living adjustments to workers' wages and a guaranteed pension after 30 years of work.

1998: A 54-day strike cost GM more than $2 billion and 500,000 vehicles. Only 9,200 workers in Flint, Michigan, walked off the job, but because they made critical parts, production eventually stopped at 30 GM plants and 100 parts suppliers across North America. GM eventually agreed to reinvest in American factories while workers agreed to improve output.

2007: The UAW strikes GM for two days, impacting 73,000 workers at 80 facilities. The strike ended with an agreement in which the UAW took over control of retirees' health care costs.

Sept. 16, 2019: The UAW calls its first nationwide strike against GM since 2007. The strike involves 49,000 workers at more than 50 factories and parts warehouses. The union is seeking wage increases, better pay for new hires and new product promises at plants GM wants to close. On Wednesday, 31 days after it began, bargainers for General Motors and the United Auto Workers reach a tentative contract deal.


Sources: United Auto Workers; Walter P. Reuther Library; The Associated Press