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The Tri-Star State: Why The UAW Strike Is Crossing Party Lines

United Auto Workers members hold signs outside General Motors' Spring Hill plant as part of a nationwide strike that started on Sept. 14.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
United Auto Workers members hold signs outside General Motors' Spring Hill plant as part of a nationwide strike that started on Sept. 14.

The impact of the latest nationwide strike by union workers against General Motors is beginning to be quantified.

According to multiple reports, the automaker has lost about $1 billion since the strike started three weeks ago.

In Tennessee, state officials worry this could have negative impacts on the local economy. 

WPLN's Sergio Martínez-Beltrán talked to leaders in the community around Spring Hill and he said it’s not the typical partisan issue.

The following are excerpts from recent interviews: 

Brandon Evans, a UAW member and employee of the GM Spring Hill facility, on how he wants the automaker to strike a balance between making profits and sharing them with the employees:

"We want the company to make money. I'm a capitalist, and I think the company should be able to make money. I think they should be able to make as much money as they want to. The question is how do we as human beings really continue to establish the ability for people to provide a living for themselves and really just have a workplace where you are treated genuinely and with respect."

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles on how the strike could impact his residents:

"Our economy depends on General Motors being here and being profitable and selling vehicles, and we want those workers, to work and be able to provide for their families. But then, also, that means they are investing back in their communities. So it’s incredibly important that they come up with a resolution quickly that’s fair and equitable to both sides.”

Ogles on why, as a Republican, he decided to meet the UAW workers at the picket line:

“I’m fairly pragmatic and obviously I’m a very conservative Republican. Some might even accuse me of being far-right Republican. But healthcare is a universal issue, whether you are a Republican, a Democrat or a libertarian or even if you are a knucklehead. So having your insurance cancelled was a shock and, if I seem to see something wrong in my community, I have an obligation to say something about it and I did.”

Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting wpln.org/tristar or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.

Copyright 2019 WPLN News

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.
Jason Moon Wilkins