UAW members turn to Kokomo food bank as strike wraps up 4th week

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KOKOMO, Ind. – As hundreds of General Motors workers in Kokomo wrap up their fourth week on strike, the community around them is working to help families keep food on the table.

There are about 250 GM workers still on strike in Kokomo. Many make $250 a week. A food bank was set up right after the strike began to help many workers get by.

It does not matter the weather. Even in the rain, some workers stood their ground in front of the GM plant in Kokomo. Across the country, UAW members are demanding better pay and more job security.

But not working for four weeks is making life challenging beyond the picket line.

“As a skilled tradesman, I am missing out on about $1,000 a week right now,” said Cary Kirkmeyer, UAW Local 292 member.

It’s a money pinch hundreds of families are now facing.

“You start paying your electric bill up three months in advance and gas and stuff but there is still that pinch,” said Kirkmeyer.

He said he can get by on $250 a week. That is not the case for everyone. That is why the community set up a food bank to make sure no one goes hungry.

“It makes all the difference in the world it makes all the difference in the world,” Kirkmeyer said.

Workers come for a hot meal during breaks or browse the stocked shelves for food to put on their kitchen tables. Uncertain of when it will end, workers said this support helps them continue marching.

“All kinds of different supplies out here to help people and make it easier on their families,” said Greg Wholford, UAW Local 292 Shop Chairman.

As they go by the picket line, people constantly honked their horns to show the strikers support. UAW members in Kokomo said the support has been overwhelming.

“The struggle has been right, and we are all willing to do that,” said Kirkmeyer.

On Friday, GM sent a letter to its employees. Gerald Johnson, Executive Vice President, Global Manufacturing, said the speculation in the media for four weeks adds to the uncertainty and he wanted to tell employees where things stand.

“From the outset, General Motors has been committed to an agreement that is fair and worthy of our team members’ support. That’s why before the contract deadline, we made an offer that we felt was strong. And since that offer, we’ve done even more to address the issues the UAW has brought forward.

On Monday, we presented another offer we felt achieved our mutual objectives. It would increase compensation through wages and lump sum payments, preserve industry-leading health care benefits without increasing out-of-pocket costs, enhance profit-sharing with unlimited upside, and improve the ratification bonus. For temporary workers, our offer also would create a clear path to permanent employment and include a ratification bonus.

Our offer commits to thousands of new jobs right here in the U.S. and billions of dollars in new investments in our communities.

We have advised the Union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers. We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are committed to our future together. Our success depends on one another. Our offer builds on the winning formula we have all benefited from over the past several years. We remain focused on building a stronger future for everyone.”

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