UAW worker: ‘These jobs were gold standard’

By Anna Helhoski | NerdWallet

United Auto Workers is officially on strike. Negotiations failed this week between the union and the Big Three auto companies — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (a multinational conglomerate that includes Chrysler).

The current strikes are targeted in three locations:

Ford: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.
Stellantis: Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio
GM: Wentzville Assembly Plant in Wentzville, Mo.

Other plants may follow at any time. It’s a strategy that UAW President Shawn Fain calls a “Stand-Up Strike,” he said during a Facebook Live stream on Sept. 13.

Each of the Big Three has proposed pay raises nowhere near what UAW is aiming for. Fain said the companies are also unwilling to bend to UAW’s request for increased pension and retiree health care.

The UAW represents nearly 150,000 workers. The union joins other major strikes sweeping the U.S., including Hollywood actors with SAG-AFTRA and film and TV writers with the WGA.

To get a personal perspective on the UAW strike, NerdWallet spoke with Nick Livick, a third-generation UAW member who works at General Motors’ Fairfax Assembly & Stamping in Kansas City, Kansas. He has worked at the plant since 2012 and is a pool worker, which means he is expected to walk onto any job and learn it quickly. We spoke about why U.S. auto manufacturing workers are demanding improved working conditions, higher pay and better benefits.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

NerdWallet: You’re a third-generation UAW member. Can you share some of your family’s background with the union?

Nick Livick: My grandfather started at the [American Motors Corp.] in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the early ’60s. After that plant closed, he got hired at General Motors in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was able to move his family because of the wage that the UAW had negotiated.

My mother got hired in 1996. I was still young and I can remember this moment when things started changing. You weren’t using so many hand-me-downs; you got to buy your own set of clothes. You weren’t using a notebook from last year; you got new school supplies.

When I got hired as a temp, my wage started out at $15. More than a decade after I got hired the starting wage hasn’t changed much. It was a lot easier in 2012 to make that wage and live.

“I know if we go out on strike, I’m going to lose money. But I never think about it like that because it’s about the worker that’s coming in after me so that they can have a better shot at their working life than I got.”

Nick Livick, third-generation UAW worker in Kansas City, Kansas.

These jobs were gold standard jobs, but then during the Great Recession, when Janesville closed, we were forced to take a lot of concessions from the government-mandated bailout. And we were promised that we’d get these back as soon as we got profitable again. We gave up a lot and we …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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