KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Thousands of employees are nearly a month into their strike against General Motors.
The United Auto Workers increased pay for workers who are choosing to continue picketing.
The union raised pay by $25 a week and also allowed members to take part-time jobs as long as they perform their picket duty.
UAW Local 292 said its members refuse to go back to work without a better contract.
General Motors employees are picketing on rotating shifts outside of the plant. They sometimes stand in the rain or cold weather, but picketers told News 8 that drivers who pass by are their biggest motivation.
“Kokomo has been awesome, and we just love it. We appreciate every wave and every honk we get,” Ron Kanable said.
UAW Local 292 is collecting donations of food and hygiene products to help families as they have 255 members.
“They’ll come in before they go out and do their picket duty or they’ll come in after they do their picket duty and get a hot lunch or hot dinner or whatever,” said strike coordinator Cheryl Jameson. “Bring their kids if they want to and then they’ll shop the food pantry.”
United Auto Workers groups across the nation are still bargaining with General Motors on major issues, like better wages and health care.
Some in Kokomo said they want temporary employees to work full time and job security.
“We have a lot of employees. Some of them have worked two, three, four, five years with only three days a year off and they do not get the same profit sharing,” Jameson said. “They don’t get the sharing bonuses, and General Motors uses them as a way to cut their expenses and increase their profit; we feel like it’s time that stopped.”
A retiree of General Motors, Midge Collett, said, “We need to keep jobs in this country. We need jobs in our community. If it weren’t for the retiree checks in this community, Kokomo would’ve been in a lot worse condition financially than it is now.”
Food has been given to picketers during their shifts from local businesses. UAW Local 292 said the strike has brought them closer yet members hope an agreement is reached soon.
“From Day 1 and the longer it goes, people just give more, and it really has given me a sense of community and I’ll never forget it, Kanable said. “It’s a lifelong memory for me.”
UAW Local 292 members said they’re not worried about General Motors possibly closing and leaving Kokomo and have full trust in their negotiators.