UAW members open up about living on strike pay

“It’s very, very scary.”
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 10:20 AM EDT
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BURTON, Mich. (WNEM) - Workers at the General Motors processing plant in Burton are still on the picket line, while talks between the UAW and the Big Three automakers show no signs of a breakthrough.

Among them are the nearly 25,000 workers preparing to go on $500 a week in strike pay.

UAW member Debbie Oszust has been with GM for 17 years. She said preparing for this has shifted her entire life.

“You have to change a lot of things—go get loans if you don’t have the money, put it away in the bank, change your bills around,” said Oszust. “My whole lifestyle is different and my husband is disabled at home, so I’m the sole supporter of my family.”

Her co-worker, Lisa King, is fearful of how this will affect her family.

“It’s very, very scary, because we’ve been saving, we tried to put stuff away, but we live paycheck to paycheck,” said King. “But, it’s scary now knowing that I’m only bringing in $500... What can I do with that?”

Another UAW member, John Horton, was on the picket line when the UAW went on strike back in 2019.

He said he feels insulted by the new wages he’ll be bringing in for demanding better pay.

”We’ve talked about it, a lot of people working in there, saying, ‘you know, we should probably start putting money away’ and I mean we were here in 2019 for the same thing, so yeah, we kind of expected it,” said Horton.

Among the demands the UAW is seeking from Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis: a 36-percent pay raise, better benefits and a 32-hour work week with 40-hours of pay.

GM confirmed the union presented a counteroffer on Monday, Oct. 2 to the company’s earlier proposal, but a spokesperson said, “significant gaps still remain.”

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