More than 3,000 workers at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill are no longer covered by their employee health insurance.
On day two of a nationwide strike, United Auto Workers members learned they’d instead have to rely on emergency coverage from the UAW Strike and Defense Fund.
The limited plan covers some benefits, like prescription drugs. But things like dental and vision aren’t included. Local union officials say they’ve already heard stories from employees scrambling to cancel doctor’s appointments or figure out how to pay for surgeries they’d scheduled.
A GM spokesperson downplayed the decision. He said the union often covers employee benefits during strikes. He likened it to the $250 per week in strike pay they receive from the union.
But Spring Hill union leaders say the decision to cut off health insurance so quickly came as a surprise. They say GM usually waits until the end of the month to end coverage.
Governor Monitoring Suppliers
The strike isn't just affecting union members and GM. It could also have an impact on other companies in Tennessee, including auto parts suppliers. Gov. Bill Lee says that’s something his administration is currently monitoring.
“We don’t know the impact, of course, but we are beginning to realize, and we hear from other companies that would be impacted by this,” he says.
Lee specifically mentioned one supplier, Denso. The Japanese manufacturer's largest facility in the U.S. is located in Maryville. A Denso spokesman says the length of the strike will determine the total impact on its production.
The strike began Sunday night after contract negotiations broke down between GM and the United Auto Workers union. This is the first time since 2007 that GM workers have walked out. That strike lasted two days.
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.