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Autoworkers race to apply for strike pay on day 2 of picketing

Strike duties determine what jobs and days employees will work. It helps to ensure strikers receive strike pay in a timely matter.

WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Saturday history continued to unfold as United Auto Workers (UAW) across three major plants are entering their 48th hour of striking. Three plants including the GM plant in Wentzville, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan and a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, were chosen as a strategic strike plan. 

Strikers in Wentzville said their location was chosen because it's a stamping plant, which makes parts for other locations including places like Kansas City and Springfield. People will be on the picket line for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

UAW's President Shawn Fain released a statement this weekend, responding to reports of layoffs of non-striking workers.

"Their plan won't work," Fain said. "The UAW will make sure any worker laid off in the Big Three's latest attack will not go without an income. We'll organize one day longer than they can, and go the distance to win economic and social justice at the Big Three".

In Wentzville, Saturday marked a day when strikers detailed the urgency to register for strike duties to avoid delaying their strike pay.

For 20 years Pamela Mason has done what she calls back-breaking work at the GM plant in Wentzville. She said she's had several hand surgeries because of how taxing her job is on her body.

She serves on UAW's Local 2250 board as their financial secretary. Saturday, her duties looked a little different because she was registering people for their strike duties.

"Today was the day for us to come in to mass register our membership," Mason said.

The task of registering nearly 4,000 employees for strike duties and strike pay isn't easy. 

Strikers who spoke to 5 On Your Side off camera said lines were long Saturday morning, but buses kept rolling in Saturday evening. If strikers don't register on Saturday, they risk delaying strike pay by a week. 

"Picking Wentzville turns the heat up tremendously," Vandaris Simpson said.

Simpson, a former UAW Local 2250 President, has 40 years working at the GM Plant. He served as president from 2011-2017. 

"We don't hope that other plants will strike. We hope that they'll come back to the bargaining table and this thing will end as quickly as possible. No one wins when we go on strike," Simpson said.

"We want to be able to afford the cars we build. When they give me back my pension and end the tiers, give back my fair pay then I will retire. Right now, I still have to fight for the people who can't fight for themselves," Mason said.

When asked whether Mason thought this year's strike would take as long as 2019's, she said she's hopeful it won't take that long.

"I sure hope not. I hope they can come to some sort of agreement on what's fair and equitable for us. I don't want to see another 41 day strike," Mason said.

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