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Union strike is latest worry in Flint, GM’s birthplace

By JEFF KAROUB and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER

Associated Press

FLINT — The birthplace of General Motors has been on an economic roller-coaster ride for more than a century as the automaker rose, crashed and retooled for changing markets. Now, the city of Flint is again steeling for economic impact amid a nationwide United Auto Workers’ strike against the automaker.

Workers seeking job security and a bigger share of GM’s profits have been surrounding the company’s massive complex in Flint for days, marching and toting signs and U.S. flags at entrances.

“Vehicle City” — and many of the workers — have been here before.

James Schneider, who operates a laser-guided forklift truck at the GM plant, participated in a 54-day strike at a Flint plant in 1998 that forced a companywide shutdown. “Our motto then was: ‘One day longer.’ And that’s what we’re going to be. We’re going to hold out one day longer,” said Schneider, 43.

He described his hometown as “rough-and-tumble” and “a hard city.”

“It’s kind of left over from when we had a lot of GM plants here and you had to be tough or you got walked over,” he said.

There is resolution but also apprehension in Flint, where an estimated 45% of the city’s 100,000 residents live below the poverty line, according to 2016 census data.