The United Auto Workers union called a nationwide strike Monday after encountering difficulties during contract negotiations with General Motors. About 46,000 workers are participating in the strike.
This is the first time in over a decade that workers at GM have gone on a major strike, according to the Wall Street Journal. The last time the union struck, in 2007, 73,000 workers walked off the job for two days.
Union leaders convened a meeting on Sunday during which they decided to commence the strike at midnight, as the four-year contract between GM and its workers came to an end.
“This is our last resort,” UAW negotiator Terry Dittes said at a press conference. “We are standing up for the fundamental rights of working people in this country.” According to the UAW, workers and management are still divided over issues including wages, health benefits, and job security.
Management at GM responded with disappointment to the walkout. “We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency,” read a statement from GM. “Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”
The strike comes at a precarious moment for the union, after news broke last week that the FBI is investigating possible corruption by current and former senior UAW officials. Regional UAW head Vance Pearson, who oversaw a 17-state area from California to Missouri, was arrested last Thursday on charges including embezzlement of union money and money laundering. Details of the case revealed in a Detroit district court describe “an embezzlement scheme whereby UAW officials hid their personal use of UAW money without any legitimate union business purpose.” According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, the head of the UAW, Gary Jones, is also a subject of the investigation, and federal agents raided Jones’s home approximately a month ago.