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Parma UAW Local 1005 On The Picket Line In Nationwide GM Strike

UAW on strike in Parma

Production at General Motors facilities nationwide halted just before midnight Sept. 15, including at the GM Metal Center in Parma.

GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Ten years later, that UAW-GM contract has expired.

The United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and GM failed to come to a new contract agreement over the weekend.

About 50,000 GM employees are on strike nationwide this week. Strikers surrounded their workplace in Parma all day Monday, eager for honks from supportive drivers.

The union says issues in the contract dispute include wages, health care benefits, job security and getting what they consider a fair share of what GM is calling record-breaking profits last year.

It was the union workers who kept GM afloat when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009, said Parma's UAW Local 1005 Shop Chairman Al Tiller.

"The UAW is who bailed them out. They're going to open today because of us. Now, they're making record profits before they even want to give back what we gave them to keep open," Tiller said. 

Despite closing the Lordstown plant earlier this year, GM said the company plans to invest $700 million in its Northeast Ohio plants, including Parma's metal stamping operation.

That doesn't keep the UAW from worrying about job security.

UAW Local 1005 President Mike Caldwell said the union feels cheated and they will strike for as long as necessary.

"As one of the largest employers in the area and largest tax base in the area, it not only destroys [employees'] lives, the community suffers tremendously," Caldwell said. 

GM employees weren't alone on the Parma picket line. 

Robert Weir, an employee at the nearby Ford plant, stopped by with a picket sign of his own.

"Time to trickle down and give it to the people who make the money for them. Who, you know, break their back, who end up in the hospital from working all of the long hours on hard concrete. It's time to share the wealth," Weir said. 

GM released a statement Monday saying the negotiations have resumed and its goal is to "reach and agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business."

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.