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GM to Pay for Striking Union Workers’ Health Insurance

General Motors stated Thursday it’s going to pay for the health insurance of its striking hourly workers, reversing a decision to push the prices onto the United Auto Workers union as delegates on both sides stated significant problems remain to be fixed.

No deal was anticipated Thursday even as talks have been continuing and will continue into the weekend, UAW and GM delegates said.

Due to the complex nature of shifting health care protection costs, GM stated Thursday that UAW members’ protection had never lapsed.

The UAW had accused GM of blindsiding its members with the decision to dismiss coverage during the strike, and a few employees had claimed they could not make their medical payments as a result. The union seized on this issue to rally public and political support for the 48,000 striking employees.

UAW members went on strike at GM on September 16 seeking better pay, greater job security, an even more significant share of the major U.S. auto companies’ revenue and protection of their healthcare perks. GM instantly shifted duty for the health insurance to the union’s strike reserve.

GM delegates had beforehand indicated that the decision on medical health insurance was telegraphed to the union well before the strike and no employee had lacked coverage due to the UAW strike fund.

The walkout – the longest autoworker strike in almost 30 years – has become a political occasion, attracting the attention of Democratic presidential hopefuls, who’ve been visiting the striking employees on the picket strains.

People conversant in the talks said progress had been made; however, the two sides are still grappling with issues over pay and job safety of newer and temporary staff.