Detroit News: Marick Masters on UAW health care benefits

Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and General Motors Co. will continue Thursday morning as 46,000 GM employees head to picket lines for day four of a national strike against the Detroit automaker. The two sides are working through differences on wages, health care and seniority for temporary employees, among other issues. "The fact that they are still talking is good news," said Marick Masters, business professor and former director of labor studies at Wayne State University. But health care will be difficult for the two to work through because the union "will fight tooth and nail" to keep their health care benefits. "If the line is being drawn in the sand over health care that becomes a tough one to fix," Masters said. "Then it becomes a test of wills of which side is going to hold out the longest." Next week is when strikers will really start to the feel the impact of the strike on them financially. Strike pay is $250 a week and the top production wage at GM is about $30 per hour, or $1,200 per week. "Next week whatever shine there is [on the strike] begins to wear off and the drudgery sets in," Masters said. "People start wondering, 'When am I getting out of this.'"

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