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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 30, 2023

All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.

We start with local news…

GM Strikes (CDH)

Workers at the Spring Hill General Motors plant walked out of the facility shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday to join the United Auto Workers "Stand Up Strike" for better wages, retirement benefits and work/ life balance initiatives among other requests.

The strike was announced by the Spring Hill UAW Local 1853 via Facebook on Saturday evening. The UAW Hall in Spring Hill was abuzz into the wee hours of the morning as workers joined the strike, standing on the picket lines in shifts at the automaker's north and south entrances.

Workers will continue to strike, taking three-hour rotational shifts at the plant, showing solidarity in their fight to negotiate a contract that fulfills their requests.

Some GM workers said the strike comes as a surprise after deals were struck with Ford late last week and Stellantis over the weekend.

GM mechanic Joe Haynes said stepping out to the picket line was “surprising” on the warm Saturday night.

“We thought they were getting closer to a deal,” Haynes said. “But things turned upside down.”

UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford said "it feels good" that workers were finally called "to stand up."

"More than half the members wanted to stand up and strike, to participate and show our other brothers and sisters (across the U.S.) that have been on strike," Rutherford continued.

"It's been going on 44 days. We're excited, we're ready to help out for a justifiable contract."

General Motors spokesperson Allison Mays released a response to the strike on Saturday evening.

“We are disappointed by the UAW’s action in light of the progress we have made. We have continued to bargain in good faith with the UAW, and our goal remains to reach an agreement as quickly as possible," the statement said.

GM has stated that its current contract offer contains historic wage increases, insisting that offering much more would affect the auto-giant's bottom line.

"Landmark offer makes GM’s UAW-represented hourly team members among the highest paid, best compensated autoworkers in the world," the GM negotiation website says.

The automaker outlines highlights of the offer including a 23% increase in general wages and a 25% compounded wage increase over the life of the contract.

The offer also included $0 premiums and deductibles for seniority workers, plus five weeks of vacation, Juneteenth and two weeks of paid parental leave.

Temporary workers are offered up to a 26% pay increase of $21 an hour.

International UAW president Shawn Fain announced a "different" strategy to negotiations when the Kentucky plant suddenly went on strike earlier this month. Before, Fain had been holding scheduled Friday updates on social media, which served as his platform to announce upcoming strikes.

However, as deals lagged, not moving forward as quickly as the UAW had wished, Fain said the union would embark upon a new strategy.

"We are entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach. We are done waiting until Fridays to announce the expansion of our strike," he told tens of thousands of viewers across YouTube, Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 13.

At the time, Fain spoke of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis becoming complacent in negotiations. Ford had already stiffened its bargaining capacity in mid-October after raising wages up to 23%, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Little forewarning will come before a plant goes on strike, Fain said.

A tentative deal was struck with Ford on Wednesday with UAW, bringing some relief to the ongoing strikes. Another tentative deal was struck with Stellantis over the weekend.

The newly proposed contracts face a UAW membership vote.

Fain and UAW Vice President Chuck Browning are leading negotiations with the "Big Three" - Ford, Stellantis and GM.

"The Stand Up Strike is working," Fain said in a Wednesday video after success with Ford. He referred to the union's strategy of targeting all three automakers for strikes simultaneously, which had never been done.

“Ford knew what was coming for them Wednesday if we didn’t get a deal. That was checkmate," Fain said after closing down additional plants at Stellantis and GM last week.

A strike at the plant was long-anticipated.

Spring Hill workers had purchased lights, propane heaters and other supplies to prepare to join the picket line, Rutherford said in late September. Some workers have even joined workers in Memphis on the picket line and in Kentucky, where strikes have been ongoing.

MFG Day (WKOM Audio 5:43)

On Friday, Columbia State Community College hosted Manufacturing Day for area highschool students. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the program and spoke with some of the coordinators of the event as well as one of the participants to learn more about the manufacturers that participated and what students learned…

Polks At Preservation Park Unveiling (Press Release)

The City of Columbia, in collaboration with Maury County Government, invites the community to the grand unveiling of "The Polks at Preservation Park." This event will take place on Friday, November 3, 2023, at 4:00 PM, in Columbia, TN. The unveiling ceremony includes remarks from City of Columbia and Maury County Government elected officials. The central focus of the park are life-size bronze statues of President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah Polk, symbolizing the importance of President Polk's legacy and the rich history of Columbia. "The Polks at Preservation Park" is strategically located directly across the street from the James K. Polk Home & Museum, offering a unique opportunity for historical reflection and a place for the community to gather.

Super Shuttle of Nashville Ribbon Cutting (WKOM Audio 3:54)

On Friday, a ribbon cutting was held for Super Shuttle of Nashville at their new location in Spring Hill. WKOM/WKRM’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to the proprietor Mary Williams, Vice President of Operations…

Breakfast With The Mayor (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance for their next Breakfast With The Mayor event October 31st at 8:00am at Puckett’s Restaurant on the Square in Columbia.

For this session, Maury Alliance is enhancing their quarterly Breakfast with the Mayor event by featuring a City of Columbia panel discussion with Mayor Chaz Molder, Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy, and Development Services Director Paul Keltner.

Tickets are $25 for members and include breakfast.

To submit a question or topic in advance, email 

For more information, visit

And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home…  

James Albert “Jim” Taylor, 76, retired educator Columbia resident, died Thursday, October 26, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

Funeral services for Mr. Taylor will be conducted Thursday, November 2, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Burial will follow in St. John’s Churchyard. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 5:00 P.M. –7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home and Thursday from 12:30 P.M. –2:00 P.M in the Parish Hall of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. 

…And now, news from around the state…

Food Tax Back (Tennessean)

Tennessee's grocery tax holiday is scheduled to end Wednesday after a three-month run and that could mean higher food bills for some families.

Once taxes are factored back in, grocery bills will increase by as much as 6.75%. How much money that means per bill will vary based on how much is spent, but the average U.S. household spends about $438 per month on food at home, according to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Using that data, an average bill would rise by about $30 per month.

"This tax-free holiday helped our neighbors in need maximize their spending at a time when cost of living is at an all-time high. Understandably, those who welcomed financial relief at the cash-register over the last three months may now be in need of additional assistance," said Nancy Keil, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. The nonprofit distributes food to almost 420 partner agencies in 46 counties.

"Second Harvest is here for our neighbors facing hunger, and we remain committed to providing access to healthy and nutritious foods for anyone in need of additional support. We hope the community will support our efforts this holiday season by making non-perishable food donations or providing a monetary gift."

Tennessee's grocery tax holiday was billed by lawmakers as the single largest tax cut in state history, with residents expected to save an estimated $273 million.

It made food and food ingredients exempt from state sales tax for three months beginning Aug. 1 and was made possible after state legislators passed the Tennessee Works Tax Act earlier this year.

“In Tennessee, we cut taxes any chance we get because families should keep more of their own hard-earned dollars,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a press release announcing the program. “I thank the General Assembly for partnering to deliver three months of savings for Tennessee taxpayers.” 

As the holiday comes to a close, some families may be considering bulk options, but it's important to remember that not all groceries fall under the tax suspension. Prepared foods, dietary supplements, candy, alcoholic beverages and tobacco are still taxed, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Cruise No Longer Coming to Nashville (Tennessean)

This summer, Cruise announced that it would bring self-driving taxis to Nashville. On Tuesday, California suspended Cruise's permits to operate after an accident left a pedestrian critically injured in San Francisco, one of the handful of cities where the GM-backed company already operates self-driving taxis.

A representative for Cruise said the company had "nothing to share on our plans for Nashville."

The California DMV, in a statement, said Cruise's autonomous vehicles are "not safe for the public's operation." The agency also accused Cruise of misrepresenting the safety of its self-driving cars.

The Oct. 2 accident, when a Cruise robotaxi dragged a pedestrian 20 feet, was only the most recent of many problems for the cars. Other self-driving taxis had collided with a fire truck, driven into wet concrete and blocked traffic due to poor cell service.

Cruise, which has announced plans to expand to a long list of cities, has been testing its technology most extensively in San Franciso. Waymo, a competing company, continues to operate robotaxis in San Francisco.

Cruise introduced itself to Nashville in July with fanfare. Since then, the company has been quiet about its plans for the city.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

After announcing an open date for his Broadway bar-Friends in Low Places, Garth Brooks just announced a new album to release on November 7th.

Brooks said in a statement, “There are a lot of different eras on this album, thus the name. Country music’s core is sincerity; after that, you can dress it up a thousand different ways. I am so lucky to live under the flag of Country Music.”

The only place available to purchase the album will be at Bass Pro Shops on November 7th. You can pre-order the album at It will be included in a seven-box disc set called The Limited Series.


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