Fort Wayne GM workers react to possible agreement

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – General Motors and the United Autoworkers Union are one step closer to getting 49,000 workers back in the factories after a tentative agreement was reached on Tuesday.

Four weeks into picketing General Motors, strikers at the Fort Wayne Truck Assembly are excited at news by a new contract might be reached soon, but they are also remaining cautious until they know for sure.

“We’re excited,” said Cathy Andrews, who has worked at the plant for 14 years. “We’re hoping that the news is true but until we’re told by our officials we see it as just a simple possibility, more rumors.”

Until the new contract is official, the workers will continue to picket as if nothing has changed. They say they are just as determined as the first day.”

“One day longer, one day stronger,” said Andrews.

The UAW released the details about the tentative contract for hourly and salaried employees. One of the main points for hourly workers is a shorter path for temporary workers.

“I hope that we get all our bases covered and we win what we were originally fighting for and that’s healthcare, a path to permanent seniority for temps, job security is a big one, and just everybody being equal in the work place,” said Jesse Gonzales, who has worked the the plant for just over two years.

They say it is not greed, it is just playing catch up after they made sacrifices to help GM through their bankruptcy troubles back in 2009.

“For the last ten years we’ve given up a lot to help them through their time in need and we’re just asking for what we gave up,” said Andrews.

The union’s International Executive Board will vote on the contract, while union leaders will have their vote in Detroit on Thursday and then it will go to the union members for ratification. The earliest strikers might return to work is on Thursday, but this process can take a couple of days.

Fort Wayne strikers say they are prepared to wait as long as it takes.

“Just like Cat said, one day longer, one day stronger,” said Gonzales. “I can do this all day.”

How the contract plays out will be significant because it will set the tone for the union’s upcoming negotiations with Fiat, Chrysler and Ford. It is not yet known which company will meet the union at the table first.

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