Thousands of U.S. auto workers remain on strike, and the walkout is being felt in Minnesota. A rally was scheduled this morning in the Twin Cities suburb of Plymouth, where the car company Stellantis has a parts distribution center. Employees there, as well as from a GM parts facility just across the Wisconsin border, are part of the nationwide strike.
Bernie Burnham, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, was among the groups hosting today’s rally and said local workers are telling her that a lot of the contract fight has to do with helping new workers.
“These newer workers are getting a different system of pay – they get benefits, but their pay is to the point where sometimes they have to have a couple of jobs,” she said.
She reiterated what UAW leaders have argued—that CEOs at these automakers are taking in big profits as workers push for better pay and benefits. Some companies at the center of the strike have called the walkout unnecessary, arguing they have made stronger offers than what union leaders are claiming.
Burnham pointed out there are safety concerns as well, with workers saying they are having a hard time keeping up with overtime demands.
“You’re expected, of course, to do more with less time, and to just kind of keep pushing the pace all the time,” she continued.
She suggested those demands stem from higher turnover rates among newer workers, who end up leaving once their pay rate maxes out. Among other demands, the UAW is seeking a switch to a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay in its contract negotiations.
Mike Moen writes for the Minnesota News Connection.