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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for September 22, 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 Strike Update (Tennessean)

The United Auto Workers union is looking to step up the pressure on the Detroit Three. Which could mean more plants going on strike, including GM's Spring Hill plant in Tennessee.

The "Stand Up Strike," as union leaders have called it, is set to potentially become one of the largest in the industry's history. So far, workers across three states have joined the picket line and more could be on the way as a deal has yet to be struck between the union and General Motors, Ford and Stellanis ( Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands). And more could be joining soon as negotiations between the union and companies continue to stretch out.

With the potential number of plants that could go on strike, the effects in the automotive world could be felt sooner rather than later.

The "Stand up Strike" has now been going on for a week and it looks like it will grow before being resolved.

Union President Shawn Fain vowed to announce new strike targets on Friday unless there is "serious progress" toward agreements with GM, Stellantis and Ford. So far, there has only been a small glimmer of hope that the strike would end soon when Stellantis gave the union a new contract proposal. However, a company spokeswoman said the offer primarily covered non-economic issues.

To add to the strike, General Motors and Stellantis announced fresh layoffs Wednesday that the automotive giants blamed on damage from the UAW strike. The layoffs will be in Kansas, Ohio and Indiana.

Last week, President Joe Biden publicly backed the UAW.

Where are UAW union workers on strike?

Union members have stepped out of production facilities in three plants in three different states. The three plants represent each company.

The plants on strike are:

Ford Michigan Assembly Plant (Final Assembly and Paint only) in Michigan

Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio

GM's Wentzville Assembly in Missouri

The strike occurred after contract talks between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers fell through. UAW called the strike when the deadline to make a new deal passed at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Around 13,000 union members in Ohio, Missouri and Michigan walked off the job and picket lines soon began forming.

The three plants were a start. If contract negotiations aren't settled more plants could be called to join the "Stand up Strike".

"Instead of striking all plants at once, select locals will be called on to 'Stand up' and walk out on strike," the union said on its website.

The General Motors manufacturing plant in Spring Hill has not yet joined in the UAW strike. But with the potential expansion of plants going on strike that could soon change.

On Sept. 14, the local UAW guild that represents Spring Hill workers said that it supports those striking and "stands ready for the call."

This isn't the first time that Spring Hill workers could potentially be called to strike. In September 2019, the UAW called a strike on GM plants after negotiations between the two fell through. At that time all of the workers at the plant went on strike.

The plant employs more than 3,700 workers.

The assembly plant builds three types of Cadillac SUVs and the GMC Acadia.

Car buyers may get even more sticker shock at the dealership as the UAW strike continues.

Between an already short supply of some vehicles and the dwindling numbers of vehicles being produced by the Detroit Three as walkouts continue, consumers could bear the brunt of it with rising prices.

Before the strike manufacturers were stocking up on cars to keep lots full, but the longer the strike – and if more plants go on strike – dealerships will soon start looking a bit sparse and there is also the worry of panic buying among consumers.

“The impact on prices would be almost instantaneous,” Garrett Nelson, and auto analyst for CFRA Research, says. “Dealers will say, ‘Look, we’re not sure how many additional vehicles we’re going to be getting.’ There could be somewhat of a panic effect that could stimulate consumers to make that purchase sooner rather than later.”

Long before the possibility of a strike car prices were rising. A chip shortage, disruptions in the global supply chain and strong demand pushed prices higher.

The average price for a new vehicle jumped from $39,919 in 2020 to $48,798 so far this year, according to Kelley Blue Book. 

UAW leader Shawn Fain revealed the list of demands on Aug. 1, including:

Eliminating wage tiers.

A 40% wage increase over the life of the contract. The 40% signifies the increase in CEO salaries.

Restoring the cost-of-living allowance adjustments to counteract inflation.

Defined benefit pension for all workers.

The right to strike over plant closures.

A reduced work week and more paid time off.

Limiting the use of temporary workers.

The UAW is also looking for companies to re-establish retiree medical benefits and increase pay.

"We owe our retirees everything," UAW said. "They built these companies and they built our union."


Tre Hargett Voter Registration Month (WKOM Audio 4:48)

September is National Voter Registration Month. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy spoke to Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett about the importance of voting and how Tennesseans can register to do so…


Vaccines Available at MRMC (Press Release)

Americans now have access to vaccines for the three viruses responsible for the country’s most hospitalizations.

 For the first time, a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is available this year for some Americans, joining the annual flu and updated COVID-19 vaccines to make a trifecta of protection against these respiratory viruses.

 “We have the most tools at our disposal that we’ve ever had to fight these viruses,” said Christina Lannom, DO, chief medical officer for Maury Regional Health. “We recommend discussing the vaccines with your primary care physician and protecting yourself and your family against COVID-19, RSV and flu.”

 

COVID-19 vaccine

 Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are available and recommended by the CDC for everyone 5 years of age and older who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months. Children 6 months to 4 years of age need multiple doses to be up to date.

 The updated vaccine is essential to being fully protected since protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time and the virus is ever-changing.

 According to the CDC, most Americans can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program.

 

RSV vaccine and nirsevimab

 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time approved two RSV vaccines for adults 60 and older this spring, then followed shortly after with approval for pregnant women. The FDA also approved nirsevimab, a one-dose, long-acting monoclonal antibody, for all infants 8 months or younger entering their first RSV season.

 The CDC recommends all adults 60 and older receive a single-dose RSV vaccine, especially those with certain chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and immunocompromising conditions and those living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

 “Our immune systems weaken as we age, which is why our older population is more susceptible to serious complications from RSV. That’s why the vaccine is so important for seniors,” Dr. Lannom said.

 Pregnant women who receive the single-dose RSV vaccine between weeks 32 and 36 of their pregnancy transfer added protection against RSV to their infants for their first 6 months of life, according to the CDC. Infants can also receive a one-dose nirsevimab injection, which is a long-acting monoclonal antibody that helps reduce the risk of severe RSV for at least five months.

 

Flu

 The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year with rare exceptions, particularly those who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza.

 This annual shot is designed to target the strains of the influenza virus that are expected to be most prevalent each year. Since there are many strains of the virus, a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but it makes it more likely you won’t — or that your symptoms won’t be as severe if you do.

 “It’s best if you receive a flu vaccine in September or October just as the peak season is beginning so you’re fully protected at the proper time. It usually takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop,” Dr. Lannom said.

 Consult your physician if you have any questions about the vaccines. Also, remember the everyday actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from these viruses: wash your hands regularly with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, avoid contact with those who are sick and stay home if you’re sick.

 Insurance coverage for vaccines may vary based on your plan. Contact your insurance provider to learn more.


Childrens’ Ballet Theater (WKOM Audio 1:56)

Yesterday, Children’s Ballet Theater held their grand opening in Spring Hill. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by the theater to learn more about it and spoke to theater director Chelsea Howell…


Ultium Offers Raises (CDH)

Ultium Cells in Spring Hill announced last week, an increase in the hourly wage offered to employees as the electric vehicle battery manufacturer seeks to hire an additional 300 employees by the end of the year.

In a media release, the manufacturer, which is a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution, says the increase is a move to attract top talent in the Middle Tennessee market.

Plant manager Chris Desautels and recruiting staff have been visiting Middle Tennessee colleges, training schools and universities to build its next local work force.

“Our early stage team members are crucial to our success, and we want our wages to reflect that importance,” Desautels said. “Attracting the best talent in the area also allows us to identify, train, and promote those applicants into leadership positions early on.”

The Spring Hill GM assembly plant builds the GMC Acadia and three types of Cadillac SUVs, including the Lyriq SUV, which will be powered by Ultium Cells batteries, to "advance the push for a zero-emissions, all-electric future."

Although GM and Ultium operate separately, Ultium management said it wants to offer a competitive package for new workers.

"Ultium Cells is making a starting wage change based upon area labor market conditions," Ultium communications spokesperson Austin Kelly said when asked about the recent strike. "Ultium Cells wants to provide a top value proposition for total compensation."

The manufacturer also recognized workers' right to unionize.

"Ultium Cells respects workers’ right to unionize and the efforts of the UAW or any other union to organize battery-cell manufacturing workers at our manufacturing sites," the company statement said.

The manufacturing plant is partially completed, will start production by the end of 2023 and is expected to be fully operational by 2025.

Ultium Cells has increased its starting wage for all hourly positions, according to the release.

Raises have been earmarked for:

Production Operators: Starting at $20/hour

Production Crew Lead: Starting at $22/hour

Quality Inspector: Starting at $20/hour

Quality Crew Lead: Starting at $22/hour

Process Maintenance Tech: $27-$35/ hour based on experience

Facility Maintenance Tech: $29-$36/ hour based on experience

"Ultium Cells will identify early team members for quick promotion and career advancement track," the release says.

Ultium Cells will employ a total of 1,700 people at its 2.8 million square foot facility, which is approximately the size of 30 football fields.

Interested job seekers can find career openings at the company’s website, ultiumcell.com.

Ultium Cells will provide battery cell capacity to support GM's North American electric vehicle assembly capacity of more than 1 million units by mid-decade, while supporting GM plans to supply other automotive companies and other industries including rail, aerospace, heavy trucking and marine customers.


Elected Officials Appreciation Picnic (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance for a BBQ picnic at the Woodland Park Rotary Shelter on Monday, September 25th at 5pm! Maury Alliance, with support from TVA, is hosting a picnic to show appreciation for the time and effort elected officials dedicate to making our community the best place to live and work. This event is also an opportunity for Maury Alliance members to come together in a casual environment and visit with Maury County's Elected Officials.



This event is free, but please RSVP if you plan to attend!

To RSVP and learn more, visit www.mauryalliance.com



Athenaeum Tour (Press Release)

The Athenaeum, one of Columbia’s premier historic sites, will be hosting a Candlelight Tour on Sept. 30 at the Athenaeum, located at 808 Athenaeum St. from 7-9. Tours will begin approximately every 20-30 minutes.  The cost is $5 per person. Come learn the Mourning Traditions of the Antebellum South. All proceeds from the tour will benefit the Athenaeum. For more information, call Phyllis Moore at 931-446-0539 or email mybusylife.pm@gmail.com 


Fall Fest (Press Release)

Columbia Main Street and the Kiwanis Club of Columbia are excited to announce the first annual Fall Fest, a community festival happening in the heart of downtown Columbia on Saturday, September 30th from 3pm to 7pm.

 The event will feature a variety of activities and attractions, including:

The Kiwanis Chili Cook-off where guests can pay $10 to sample chili from competing teams & vote for their favorite;

Food trucks: Mostarda Catering, Hot Dog Mafia, Loco Lemon, Holy Smoke BBQ, D's Kettle Corn, and Bri's Homemade Ice Cream;

A fun zone with games and activities for kids of all ages;

Live music from Majestic - a Journey tribute band, Classic Vinyl, and Chief Smiley Ricks & the C-Town Special;

A craft marketplace featuring over 40 vendors selling candles, hats, jewelry, plants, clothing, desserts, and more.

 

"We are excited to partner with the Kiwanis Club to bring Fall Fest to downtown Columbia," said Kelli Johnson, Columbia Main Street Manager. "This is a family-friendly festival with everything from food trucks and craft vendors to live music and the Kiwanis chili cook-off. What a great way for families to kick off the fall season and celebrate the community. We hope to see everyone there!"

 Admission is free for Fall Fest and all are welcome to attend, while a fee is charged to participate in the Kiwanis Chili Cook-off. For more information, please visit the Columbia Main Street’s website www.ColumbiaMainStreet.com or the Kiwanis Club of Columbia Facebook page www.facebook.com/kiwanisofcolumbiatn.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

It's another great weekend for classic car enthusiasts, this time at Parks Motor Sales Buick GMC, 919 Nashville Highway.

The facility will host its third annual Muletown Motorfest, which will also serve as a benefit for Columbia CARES nonprofit.

The Motorfest car show will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, featuring classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. There will also be door prizes, food trucks and live music to enjoy.


Columbia's annual Comic Book & Toy Expo returns this weekend to The National Guard Armory at 844 N. James M. Campbell Blvd., featuring multiple vendors, cosplayers and artists.

If you've got a love for comic books, horror movies, video games, anime and toy collecting, you'll find it at the Comic Book & Toy Expo.

The expo will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and admission is $5 at the door.


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