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General Motors, UAW reach agreement to end strike

Thomas O'Neil-White

Despite torrential downpour conditions, striking General Motors workers were in good spirits standing outside of union headquarters on River Road in the Town of Tonawanda Wednesday afternoon with news that GM and the United Auto Workers union has reached a tentative agreement to end the strike.

The more-than 49,000 member union has been on strike across the United State since September 16, trying to secure a better contract. That includes workers in Tonawanda and Lockport.

Flanked by poncho wearing members holding umbrellas, Local 774 President JR Baker said it has been a struggle to get to this point.

“We all worked together, endless hours,” he said. “From the kitchen duty to the seargent-at-arms, everything to make this work. I’m excited, as you can see, and I think we all are excited too.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Local 774 President J.R. Baker

Baker will travel to Detroit Thursday morning to meet with other union leaders to discuss the details of the agreement. The deal needs approval from both the leadership and rank-and-file union members.

Around the corner on Vulcan Street at an entrance to the GM plant, striker Tyler Herman says The City of Good Neighbors has helped them through a financially difficult period.

“Cupcakes. They’re dropping off coffee. They’re dropping off donuts," he said.

In addition, Herman said they have received tents and other materials to keep them dry and warm as the season has changed.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Union Headquarters

Herman said the strike has been toughest on families where the husband and wife both work at the plant and credits FeedMore WNY for providing food from their pantry.

Despite the conflict between labor and management, Herman believes everyone is ready to get back to work.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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