Nearly 50,000 U.S. auto workers strike against General Motors

Nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) members have gone on strike at General Motors (GM) plants and parts warehouses across the United States.

The workers walked off factory floors or set up picket lines overnight, shutting down 33 GM manufacturing plants and 22 parts distribution warehouses in the U.S.

The union says contract talks with GM are still set to resume in Detroit at 10 a.m Monday, despite the walkout.

UAW officials said both sides were far apart in the talks when they broke down Sunday. The union says it wants better pay and benefits that were put on hold while GM was financially idling.

It’s unclear how long the walkout will last, with the union saying GM has budged little in months of talks while the company said it made substantial offers including higher wages and factory investments.

Tim McKinnon, the union chair for the St. Catharines GM unit, told CHCH News on Sunday he believes Canadian workers will feel an immediate impact from the strike down south. He believes all of the more than 1,100 employees working in three different divisions in St. Catharines will be without a job in about a week’s time.

“It will have almost immediate effect with two of our engine products. They’ll likely go down within the next two to three days. We just won’t have anywhere to ship. The transmission will probably last a little bit longer as far as production goes because we ship our products to CAMI in Ingersoll,” said McKinnon.

General Motors has made $35 billion in the last three years according to the UAW union, and they’re looking for profit sharing.

In 2009, the union made concessions that helped GM survive bankruptcy protection.