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General Motors Cancels Health Care for Strikers

On June 26, 1998, General Motors said that it had halted company-paid medical coverage for the workers on strike at two plants in Flint, MI, and that it was considering doing the same thing to other members of the United Auto Workers who were laid off as a result of the walkouts in Flint. According to GM spokesman Gerry Holmes, "The contract says General Motors will fund health care only through the end of the month in which they last work. We're not required to continue that coverage."

The strikes by approximately 9,200 workers in Flint had, as of June 26, resulted in the layoff of 162,000 other GM workers at 26 assembly plants and about 100 parts plants across in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. GM has 319,000 hourly workers in North America. Health benefits cost the company about $4.8 billion per year for these workers plus the executives and engineers.

In the event, General Motors decided to continue health care coverage for all but the 9,200 workers in Flint. The strike was called over a range of health and safety issues, a number of unresolved grievances, and the failure of General Motors to invest the millions of dollars (which could increase the productivity of the plant) in the Flint Metal Center, as the company had previously promised to the UAW it would.

MichUHCAN comment - If the United States had a single-payer health care system, no employer would have this kind of power over its employees. Nobody, unionized or salaried, would risk losing health care coverage for herself or her family because of a dispute with an employer. No employer would have to compete with other employers who offer better coverage, or none at all, for employees.

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This page posted July 4, 1998.