49,000 Auto Workers Could Shut Down GM’s Plants at Midnight

A massive strike could cost the car maker $400 million a day.

General Motors employees demonstrate in Flint, Michigan.Jake May/AP

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At midnight, 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers union plan to go on strike at General Motors plants following the breakdown of contract talks. It will be the union’s first strike since a two-day shutdown in 2007 and could bring vehicle production at GM’s plants in the United States to a screeching halt. 

According to a statement released by the union on Sunday, the workers hope to secure “fair wages, affordable healthcare, a share of profits, job security, and a defined path to permanent seniority for temps.” (Full disclosure: Mother Jones’ employees, including myself, are members of the UAW.)

“We are standing up for our members and for the fundamental rights of working-class people of this nation,” Terry Dittes, the union’s vice president, told the Detroit Free Press. “Going into the bargaining season, our members have been very clear of what they will and will not accept in this contract.”

GM said the union’s decision to strike was “disappointing.” The company has good reason to be unhappy: A strike, the Associated Press reports, “would bring to a halt GM’s U.S. production, and would likely stop the company from making vehicles in Canada and Mexico as well.” It could lead to fewer options at car dealerships, “and it would make it impossible to build specially ordered cars and trucks.”

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor, and economics at Ann Arbor’s Center for Automotive Research, told the Detroit Free Press a shutdown at this scale would cost GM about $400 million a day. “GM has enough inventory for a short strike of one or two weeks. After that, it starts to get painful.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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