Common Council Supports UAW in GM Strike

"There hasn't been any wavering as of yet."

Brendan Keany
October 08, 2019 - 1:07 pm

(WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany)

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TONAWANDA (WBEN) - The national General Motors strike is now in its fourth week, and that means thousands of Western New York worker continue to go without substantial paychecks.

Sunday's news of a regression in negotiations between the United Auto Workers and GM obviously wasn't what the members at the Tonawanda Engine Plant wanted to hear, but they're prepared to hold strong in their demands.

"Things have kind of gone backwards, and General Motors is stagnant with their proposals and not addressing the 35 proposals that we passed on Sunday, so we're continuing to negotiate, which is always a good thing," said UAW International Servicing Rep Jim Lakeman. "We're at the table, and we're just trying to work through these issues and get a fair contract for everyone."

UAW members are standing firm on five specific items that they want to pass, including fair wages, affordable healthcare, profit sharing, a permanent path for temps and job security.

"I think everyone on this line here, the 1,300 people, and the people in Lockport, and Rochester - so about 3,200 people total - they understand the significance of those proposals and the five issues," said Lakeman. "They're willing to stand out here for it, and there hasn't been any wavering as of yet. Everyone's getting their strike pay, doing their duties, and they're willing to stay out here as long as it takes to make sure they get a fair agreement."

Lakeman also added that the community support has been overwhelming. Of course, Western New York is heavily influenced by labor, and on Tuesday, several members of the Buffalo Common Council made an appearance at UAW Local 774 to share their support for the strike.

"Some of the council members thought it was important to come out and support the union workers here at UAW," said Council President Darius Pridgen. "This city has been built on unions, and really having fair wages and benefits for people, and so we thought it was important to come out. Although we are elected officials, we still believes, as individuals, in supporting the unions, and the Council has proven that in supporting unions contracts that have been negotiated with the city recently because we do think that unions are important."

Listen to Pridgen's full comments below:

But local politicians aren't the only people showing support for these workers. In fact, just being at a picket for five minutes is enough to see the solidarity from the community members who pass by.

"It makes us feel great - the amount of people that are coming out and supporting, the amount of horns you hear every day when you're standing out here, it's fantastic, and I think the community here knows that Buffalo is a union town," said Lakeman. "They know that we're the people that fuel the middle class, and you see it even with Google and all of these other things where employees are now taking a stand, saying that we need our fair share."

Listen to Lakeman's full comments below:

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