MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — After almost four weeks, United Auto Workers members remain on the picket lines across the nation as contract talks with General Motors continue.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes sent a letter to union members after talks concluded on Tuesday, saying he had little progress to report on the union’s core issues. Those issues include better wages, pensions, healthcare benefits and improved safety.
Local UAW 1590 President Vanessa Banks told the Panhandle News Network that while there have been improvements to their insurance, there’s still a long way to go. She has been supporting members on the picket lines outside of Martinsburg’s GM facility.
“I was really glad to hear about the insurance. If that stays as is, then that’s a good thing. What people don’t understand is when you go under these contracts, you’re no longer guaranteed the pay that you once had or the insurance you once had. All of those things are renegotiated. So you’re kind of crossing your fingers.”
Workers have been lining Route 9, Caperton Boulevard and GM Access Road since the strike began. Banks said the workers are protesting in shifts.
“We’ve had just random people stop and give water, even money to get food,” Banks said. “So it’s been good and we’ve had so many other unions; the teacher union, electrical unions. There’s unions that I didn’t even know existed stopping by.”
GM has remained fairly silent while negotiations with UAW continue. The last statement from the company addressing the strike was released on September 16.
“Negotiations have resumed. Our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business.”
According to General Motors’ website, the Martinsburg center has 112 employees. The 404,000 square foot building’s main purposes are logistics, warehousing and distribution.