GM Strikes Out

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Watching Michael Moore's documentary "Roger and Me," you'd think years of plant closures and retrenchments had long since knocked the fight out of the GM autoworkers of Flint, Michigan. The company's management evidently thought so when they moved to outsource work from its Flint plants -- only to be hit with a walkout that threatens to bring all the company's assembly lines to a halt. "GM has been taken totally by surprise by this week's strike," says TIME reporter Joe Szczesny. The company now faces a potentially crippling nationwide walkout if it fails to resolve the Flint dispute. "This is probably the biggest job-related fight triggered by NAFTA," says Szczesny. "GM is the biggest private employer in Mexico, and they're expanding. The UAW sees itself as fighting to save jobs in the U.S. The other side of that strategy is to promote independent unions in Mexico in order to raise wages there." Indications are that management is looking to settle, reports Szczesny. "GM doesn't have enough money to beat the union on this one."