As I walk along the UAW picket line outside the GM power train plant in Warren, Michigan, I hear the same thing over and over: "protect our jobs."
For all the talk about GM and the UAW being able to agree on a groundbreaking fund to handle rising healthcare expenses, the sticking point is old fashioned job security. The UAW wants guarantees about jobs even if GM has to close more plants.
This is a tough but not insurmountable issue for GM. As it becomes more global in operations and as it loses market share in the U.S., it's tougher to see it needing as many assembly plants in the future. But with the UAW losing members as GM downsizes, the union wants to hold on to jobs.
I am encouraged both sides will go back to the bargaining table this afternoon. Perhaps they can bridge the differences quickly and limit the strike to a day or two. Tonight, the tone of the rhetoric in union halls and on picket lines will give us an indication of how long this strike lasts.