What Do General Motors Union Workers on Strike Do When They’re Not Picketing?

While many on the UAW picket line are using the time do yard work, spend time with kids, or volunteer… one worker says he’s using the time to eat more.

Editor’s note: WDET reporters are members of the Professional and Administrative Union, Local 1979, UAW.

United Auto Workers have been on strike against General Motors since Sep. 16.

The union members aren’t completely without obligations. They have to take shifts walking the picket line every other day. But they still have a lot more free time than usual. So how are they filling that void?

Click on the player above to hear an interview with GM worker Steven “Eat Mo” Reeves about what he’s up to when not picketing.

Laura Herberg/WDET
Laura Herberg/WDET

Eric Remick works on the line at General Motor’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. He says while workers like himself do have a lot more time these days, “It’s free time we don’t want, that’s for sure.”

Remick – who commutes to the picket from a town north of Port Huron – says he’s been trying to use as little gas as possible and so has been doing a lot of work around the house.

James Reynolds, who works in the paint shop at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, says he’s also doing a lot of projects at home.

“You clean out the garage, get the gutters, re-stack firewood, get the back corner of the yard you haven’t touched in years,” says Reynolds. “You try to stay busy because you don’t want to just be laying around.”

Laura Herberg/WDET
Laura Herberg/WDET

One electrician at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, who doesn’t want to use his name, says he takes care of his 36-year-old son. The strike has given them more time to spend together. “He’s really into comic books. He likes going to shops all over the state. If it takes two hours to drive there, I can do that now.”

Laura Herberg/WDET
Laura Herberg/WDET

Another worker, Chris Viola, is on the door line at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly.

“Every part on your door I may have placed my hands on. I secure it. I put glass in there for the window. I’ve done everything that has to do with the door,” says Viola.

To fill his free time, Viola has signed up to volunteer. He plans to assist the City of Oak Park where he lives and where his wife works.

“They have some events with Parks and Recreation that I want to help out with,” says Viola. He’s also planning to volunteer at an upcoming fundraising sale with the Oak Park Library.

Lamont Young has been using his free time to stay in touch with God.

“Still going to church, keeping the faith, so you can help everybody else,” Young says. He’s a body shop fitter at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly.

And then there’s line worker Steven “Eat Mo” Reeves. He says he’s been using his free time to rest up for his shifts on the picket line, which tire him out from all the walking. When not picketing, Reeves says “I don’t do nothing. I watch TV, sit on the porch. That’s it.”


  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.