SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a nationwide strike for 40 days, about 3,300 General Motors employees in Spring Hill returned to work on Monday.
The strike against the auto company officially ended on Friday after the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) reached a new four-year deal, which included pay raises, a signing bonus, keeping health care coverage and a plan for temporary workers to reach full-time status after three years of service.
About 57 percent of the workers who voted across the country approved the new contract, even though GM will continue its plan to close three plants. However, the new plan was a sigh of relief for families who relied on a consistent paycheck. There were growing concerns that the strike could potentially last after the new year, and during the holiday season.
Spring Hill GM team leader LaCrystal Ferguson and her husband even decided to picket on their wedding day to show support for their UAW peers. Ferguson was nervous returning to work on Monday after she voted against the deal, but she said the day went well.
"I know a lot of people say they need to be re-trained. As the day went on we were able to pick up our speed and get better and better," Ferguson told NewsChannel 5.
Despite the approval from majority of workers who voted across the country, it was a slimmer margin of votes at the Spring Hill plant location. In total, 1,666 workers voted for the contract but 1,673 voted against it. Ferguson said others have described going back to work as a "funeral."
She wanted wage increases to be on the same level, and she questions the path for temporary workers based on what she has seen at the plant over the years.
"At any point in time, GM can let you go for 30 days and bring you back. So, I feel like you never get your full three years before you'll get laid off," she explained.
However, Ferguson is staying cautiously optimistic. For now, she hopes to go back to school for other potential opportunities and avoid any uncertainty in the future.
"I'm worried about them shutting the plant down here and us having to move. My whole life is here, and I don't want to move so that makes me cautious," she added.
The strike reportedly cost GM more than $2 billion.