Fighting GM puts the squeeze on striking workers

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK LEE, STRIKING UNITED AUTO WORKERS/GM EMPLOYEE, SAYING:

"The struggle was real before, now the struggle is uncontrollable."

United Auto Worker Frank Lee is feeling the financial pressure after two-weeks on strike against General Motors, walking the picket line in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Lee is not alone. He's one of 48,000 hourly workers taking part in the longest nationwide strike against GM in nearly half a century.

The single dad who came from a family of union workers, is supporting a visually-impaired teenage son and fighting off bill collectors.

He only just started getting his strike pay - $250 a week.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK LEE, STRIKING UNITED AUTO WORKERS/GM EMPLOYEE, SAYING:

"Today, I actually went into the negative. I had insurance that came out of my account automatically and before I could get a hold of them, so that actually put my bank account in the negative and so a friend of mine actually gave me a little to help me get that back even. Unfortunately by the time I got it back even they charged me enough overdraft fees that it kept me in the negative."

And there's no way to ease the cash crunch. Union regulations prohibit strikers from taking on an extra job. If they do - union benefits disappear.

GM and Union continued talks through Thursday.

The UAW rejected GM's latest proposal, saying it fell short on wages, healthcare and job security, as well as the treatment of temporary workers like Lee, who has been on the job for 3 years.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK LEE, STRIKING UNITED AUTO WORKERS/GM EMPLOYEE, SAYING:

"I'd like to be able to have the same benefits as my brothers and sisters have that I work across from. They get bonuses. They get profit sharing."

And permanent workers also get better pay - twice the average hourly rate of temp workers - along with paid time off.

GM wants to increase the use of lower-paid temp workers to fill-in daily gaps on the production line left by absentee employees to keep labor costs down.

The stand-off isn't just hurting workers. Analysts estimate GM is losing a $1 billion each day of the strike.

At home, Lee is unsympathetic.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK LEE, STRIKING UNITED AUTO WORKERS/GM EMPLOYEE, SAYING:

"When you look at the company as a whole, they keep getting richer, yet they don't even want to give back what we gave up from the get-go to help them stay alive back in 2008 during the financial crisis."

Lee says he's not just fighting for himself, but also for his son, who joined him on the picket line, just like Lee did with his father when he was a kid.

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