DETROIT—Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) went on strike Monday against General Motors, bringing more than 50 factories and parts warehouses to a standstill in the union’s first walkout against the No. 1 U.S. automaker in more than a decade.
With the two sides far apart, UAW regional leaders here voted unanimously on Sunday morning to authorize the strike, the union’s first such walkout since 2007. It began at midnight, after the union’s current bargaining agreement expired on Saturday. As the strike took hold, the union and the company resumed negotiations on Monday morning.
The UAW is pushing G.M. to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs at others and close or narrow the difference between pay rates for new hires and veteran workers. G.M. wants employees to pay a greater portion of their health care costs, and to increase work force productivity and flexibility in factories.
Although the company has been earning substantial profits in North America—and it made $8.1 billion globally last year—it has idled three plants in the United States as car sales slide and overall demand for vehicles weakens.
The auto industry remains crucial to the economy, counting some 220,000 people who work to manufacture cars. According to the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the broader vehicle industry supports 9.9 million jobs and historically accounts for about 3 percent of gross domestic product.