Workers with a picket line mark every entrance to the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. Included are all the utensils of a long stay ̵
It's the same image at the Hamtramck plant, which is just an hour's drive away, and there are similar scenes in GM facilities in the US.
On September 16, nearly 49,000 workers went on strike.
"We are prepared to stay out here for as long as possible," says Bill Brewer, quality inspector at the Flint plant.
Mr. Brewer has been with GM for 42 years. This is his third blow. It's the longest time he has been.
Every day, the strike costs General Motors an estimated $ 90 million.
The workers also lose money. The United Auto Workers Union (UAW) has provided $ 250 per week to each striking worker to help him make ends meet, but many had to dive into their savings.
Stephanie Pink, a 31-year-old mother who has worked The union warned her against saving for four years in the weeks leading up to the strike at GM's Hamtramck plant.
"Even with my savings, it's really difficult," she says. "But we have to fight what is right."
The plant she works in will be closed in January 2020.
At the heart of the union's argument is that employees made concessions during the financial crisis to prevent the closure of GM.
In 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy. In the midst of a global recession, the mountains of debt and the slowdown in car sales brought the company to the brink of collapse. The US government stepped in to keep the company and the industry alive. It granted GM approximately $ 40 billion in loans in exchange for a 61 percent interest in the company.
Employees agreed to pay cap and two-tier compensation and allowed GM to hire temporary workers who had no health or social benefits
Since the rescue, GM has rebuilt itself and earned billions of dollars in profits , The staff say they owe a larger part of it.
"We've put in just as much work in these plants and put those cars together like everyone else wearing a suit or dress on or with heels," says Anesha Powell. a machine operator who has been with GM for almost four years.
Under the 2009 treaty, the UAW agreed to limit wages to $ 28 per hour. That has since risen to $ 30, but if those salaries kept pace with inflation workers, they would earn $ 33.77 an hour, the union says.
In 2018, Mary Barra, managing director of GM, earned nearly $ 22 million.
Companies working with GM are also bringing casualties if the strike continues.
Moe Thalji, co-owner of Phoenix Transit & Logistics, says his company has lost gross revenues of $ 1.3 million since the exit.
His logistics business transports GM parts between the plants and the carmaker. from the work of his company. When the plants are resting, so are Mr. Thalji's trucks. His lot is filled with dozens of trailers filled with GM parts.
So far, he has had to cut down more than 100 workers.
"I do not sleep at night," says Mr. Thalji. "There are families that I support with my business, we've gone into our savings, and we'll probably have three to four more weeks before we're completely empty."
The repercussions of the strike are felt throughout Michigan, where GM is headquartered. The state has so far lost an estimated $ 13.8 million in gross tax revenues, according to the Anderson Economic Group.
The auto industry is Michigan's largest employer. In addition to the three major US automakers GM, Ford and Chrysler, there are also affiliates such as suppliers and transportation companies such as Phoenix Transit & Logistics.
Manufacturing accounts for 19% of Michigan's economy. The state experienced a slowdown in production before the strike began, and fears are mounting that a recession could be triggered if GM workers stay on the picket line much longer.
The UAW calls for higher wages, assurances that GM assigns New products to US plants whose shutdown is planned, and changes to a profit-sharing agreement week
But also the uncertainty about the US economy and the auto industry makes the talks stall.
GM has invested millions in new technologies, including electrification, with no clear indication of when these vehicles will be profitable. Workers fear that electric cars, which require less manpower to build, will mean job losses.
Floating above everything is the danger of another economic downturn in the US economy.
"We see that the next four years are very uncertain," says Kristin Dziczek, Vice President of the Center for Automotive Research.
Trade concerns and changing consumer habits may not allow GM Some of the concessions the union is seeking.
For workers who may not be good enough.
Outside the Hamtramck plant, Torrance Willison – who has been with GM for 34 years – says: "We had to sacrifice a lot, so General Motors is on a stronger footing and now we just hope to reap some benefits."