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UAW ready for contract talks with automakers

Tracy Samilton

Delegates to the United Auto Workers' Special Convention on Wednesday completed voting on resolutions for the next four-year contract with automakers and other UAW-represented companies.

The resolutions will guide union negotiators as they hammer out the terms of the deal. One resolution seeks to place more limits on automakers' use of temporary workers.

Delegate Cathy Smith is a union rep who works at Fiat Chrysler's Trenton Engine plant. She says working conditions for the roughly 200 temporary workers at the plant are inhumane. She says they get a total of three absences over the entire period of their temporary position.  

"There's no light at end of tunnel," says Smith. "They can be temporary for years, and working six days a week. Show me anybody who can work six days a week and not miss a day or two. They're coming to work with the flu, when their kids are sick, they have no babysitters. It's horrible."

Another resolution seeks to shorten the timeline for lower-paid workers with less seniority to reach wage parity with workers with more seniority. Currently it can take eight years to reach the higher wage.

Earlier at the convention on Monday, UAW President Gary Jones announced an increase in strike pay, from $200 a week to $250 a week. The increase could make workers more likely to approve a strike, and give union negotiators more clout during talks.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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