© 2020 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Economy & Business

UAW Reaches Tentative Agreement With General Motors

Auto workers stand outside the Wentzville GM plant on Tuesday morning. They've been on strike since Sept. 15. (Oct. 15, 2019)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Workers with UAW Local 2250 stand outside the Wentzville GM plant on Tuesday morning. They've been on strike since Sept. 16.

WENTZVILLE — The United Auto Workers announced Wednesday it has reached a tentative agreement with General Motors. 

The details of the tentative agreement, which GM confirmed, will not be made public until at the earliest after a meeting of the union’s National General Motors Council in Detroit. 

UAW Local 2250 President Glenn Kage will leave for the meeting Thursday morning. Kage, who represents 4,500 workers at the GM assembly plant in Wentzville, said that while he’s not seen the deal yet, he’s optimistic.

“We don’t believe that our international union would agree to a tentative agreement that did not meet what the members were asking for,” he said, adding it could take up to 10 days to ratify the agreement.

Until then, the strike will continue for 49,000 UAW workers around the country, as well as workers in Wentzville, like Josh Hearn.

The Florissant resident has worked at the plant for nine years. This is his first strike, which is in its fifth week, and Hearn said he never imagined it would last this long. 

While Hearn said that while he considers himself an optimistic person, the father of three young kids said the financial and emotional stress are beginning to weigh on him.

“Stand strong, stand tall, try to be that backbone for my family and try not to show no emotion in front of them and let them know everything is going to be all right,” he said. “But inside me? Oh yeah, it’s very stressful.”

Auto workers Antonio Harris, Scott Whitman and Mike Harris, left to right, picket outside the Wentzville GM plant. Oct. 15, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Hearn said he’s grateful the union recently approved an increase in strike pay by $25, bringing his weekly pay to $275 if he fulfills his 4-hour picketing duties. The union also approved part-time work.

At the same time, his family has had to cut back on activities for the kids and on eating out. 

Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione estimates the strike has halted work in town for 8,000 to 10,000 people, including suppliers to GM. He said the strike hasn’t been good for anyone, though he won’t know the full financial impact on the town for a few months. 

“It touches my heart to see them out here walking and, you know, losing a paycheck. And it does affect the community because they can’t spend. They’re not spending money,” he said. “The community restaurants, they’re trying to scale back and meet their needs as well. So, it affects us all.”

Overall, Guccione said the community has rallied to support the workers of the town’s largest employer. 

Restaurants including Stefanina’s Pizzeria have dropped off food from time to time over the past few weeks.

“I have friends that work out there. I drive by, I see them all out there on the line. It’s been cold,” said owner Denise Gannon. “They’ve supported us for years, so we just thought maybe they’d want some hot food to eat.”

Gannon said the strike has rippled down to hit her sales, too.

“I’d say probably 15 to 20 deliveries a day, on the weekends especially, we’re not going over there. If an average ticket is $30, that makes a huge impact on us,” she said. 

GM plants across the country have been shut down since Sept. 16, when workers began striking for better pay, job security and full-time positions for temporary workers within three years.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Our priority is you. Support coverage that’s reliable, trustworthy and more essential than ever. Donate today.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.