FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One month into the United Autoworkers’ strike of General Motors, the only paycheck many GM strikers are receiving is their union strike pay of $250 per week. For many, that’s not enough to support their families, and some are turning to organizations like Invisible Vets for assistance to get by.
“Really, there’s no answer to a strike,” said Adam, a General Motors striker. “You can’t really prepare yourself for it. You just have to put it in your mind like, hey, it’s going to happen. Prepare for the worst.”
Adam, who did not feel comfortable sharing his last name, said he prepared as best he could for the strike but the reduced pay hit him hard. Unable to make his October rent deadline, the army veteran received notice he would be evicted. So, he went out of his comfort zone and asked for help.
“Honest and truthfully, I’m the kind of person that won’t ask,” said Adam. “That’s just ’cause I’m hard-headed.”
He reached out to veterans support organization Invisible Vets to see if they could offer any support to him. The group asked for donations on Facebook, and the community responded.
“In three hours of our request for assistance, we’d already raised $560 of the $910 that we needed,” said Invisible Vets founder Jim Garigen.
Invisible Vets paid the difference and were able to work out a deal with Adam’s apartment complex to avoid eviction. It was a huge relief off of Adam’s shoulders, but Garigen said Adam isn’t the only GM striker they’ve heard from either, and they expect to hear from more the longer the strike goes on.
“It’s mostly food, and the good thing with that is we have contacts with the Community Harvest Food Bank and their program down there so we’ll be able to set them up with that,” said Garigen. “There’s only a couple that have true financial needs right now but we’re prepared for many more because there’s a lot of veterans employed out at the plant.”
In anticipation of more of those veterans needing assistance, the group is collecting donations on their Facebook page.
The UAW International Executive Board voted today to raise strike pay to $275 per week starting on Sunday. It is a raise that was already planned to go into effect in the new year, but has been moved up as the strike continues. The board also voted to allow strikers to take on part-time jobs without seeing a reduction in their strike pay.