DiNapoli speaks at UAW picket line outside Rochester GM plant

Oct 7, 2019

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli joined striking members of the United Auto Workers union outside a General Motors plant in Rochester on Monday, as tensions continue between workers and the company.

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks into a megaphone next to UAW Local 1097 President Dan Maloney.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

DiNapoli spoke to workers on the picket line outside the plant on Lexington Avenue. He says he supports the UAW in their negotiations with GM.

"I certainly support them in their battle and I hope that GM, which has been an enlightened company in many ways, will listen to their better angels and come up with a positive resolution as soon as possible," DiNapoli says.

Last week, he addressed a letter to General Motors CEO Mary Barra urging a quick resolution with considerations for fair wages and U.S.-based jobs. In his letter, he noted that he was writing as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, a longtime investor in GM.

Over the weekend, negotiations reportedly deteriorated. UAW Vice President Terry Dittes told union members that GM responded to the union’s latest proposal with an offer that had already been rejected with a few minor adjustments.

UAW Local 1097 president Dan Maloney calls GM’s response "typical."

"We’re not going to be pawns in their game," Maloney says. "We’re going to do this until we get it right. So we’ll stay out as we say 'one day longer, one day stronger' to get the reasonable demands of the true shareholder, the workers, met."

Of those demands, the UAW is calling for affordable health care and better job security. In Rochester, Maloney says workers are concerned that the plant will close, and that jobs will be outsourced to China and Mexico.

Striking workers outside the General Motors plant on Lexington Avenue listen to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's address on the picket line.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

"Last year, General Motors sent us a letter stating no future product for Rochester," he says. "The corporation doesn’t care about the workers, think we’re disposable. And they want to go to a country where it’s, they think, OK to abuse workers. So again, it’s corporate greed run amok. There’s nothing moral or ethical about what they’re doing."

Around 46,000 employees at more than 30 factories across multiple states have been on strike since Sept. 16 over wages and the use of temporary workers. Maloney says that though workers receive a fraction of their salaries while on strike, it’s a necessary measure.

"Nobody likes it. It’s mutual destruction. It’s last resort," he says. "But we had to take this action to make it right for ourselves currently and for future generations and for America."

As workers enter a fourth week of strikes at factories across the U.S., separate federal investigations into alleged corruption by union leadership are also underway.

Maloney says that he hopes justice will be served.

“They’re gonna pay the price. And there’s nobody here who has sympathy for a corrupt union leader," he says.

Regional director Vance Pearson is one of the latest to be charged with fraud and embezzlement. He is on a leave of absence as of Friday.