LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Members of the local United Auto Workers (UAW) union gathered outside the shuttered General Motors plant in Lordstown Monday in solidarity with the national union.
From Lansing, Michigan to Fort Wayne, Indiana to Spring Hill, Tennessee to Lordstown, Ohio — over 48,000 UAW members are on strike after contract talks with GM deteriorated.
GM workers walked off the job at midnight, shutting down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.
It’s the biggest strike by any labor organization in the country since 2007.
“I’m out here because these people need help,” said Joe Perry, Sr., a retired union representative.
Perry worked at the Lordstown plant for 36 years. He came back to join his union brothers and sisters at one of the entrances of the now-idled facility to strike.
“General Motors is treating us wrong,” Perry said. “We saved them, we saved this company here, and now they’re doing this to us. People gotta transfer all over the United States. It just ain’t right.”
Local workers who lost their jobs at GM Lordstown said they believed the last glimmer of hope for the local plant rested in the negotiations. They were prepared to strike when and if the time came.
“The company didn’t come to the table,” said Dan Morgan, UAW Local 1112 shop chairman. “They waited until the very last second to give any kind of proposal and it didn’t meet the needs of our members — from wages, to benefits, to temporary workers showing a road to permanent hire.”
Local UAW members have been on the picket line in Lordstown since midnight Sunday.
Among those holding signs are workers who took job transfers, some who have been laid off and others who were up until 11:59 Sunday night — still working in the plant to keep it in a state of readiness.
The collective bargaining agreement between the UAW and GM expired Saturday at midnight.
Despite ongoing talks since July, the parties remain divided on several key issues such as job security, fair wage and affordable health care.
It’s been well over six months since the last Chevy Cruze rolled off the line at the GM Lordstown plant, ending a 53-year run of one of the largest manufacturing plants of its kind in North America. Since then, the plant has been on unallocated status.
“Just because we’re unallocated doesn’t mean we’re still not going to stick up for our members and try to get a fair contract,” Morgan said.
GM officials wrote on their website that they have presented a “strong” offer that includes solutions for unallocated plants, such as GM Lordstown.
“We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”
Over $7 billion in investments and more than 5,400 jobs:
- Solutions for unallocated assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio
- Investments in eight facilities in four states
- Introduction of all-new electric trucks
- Opportunity to become the first union-represented battery cell manufacturing site in the U.S.
- Additional new vehicle and propulsion programs
Best-in-class wages and benefits:
- Wage or lump sum increases in all four years
- Improved Profit Sharing Formula
- Ratification payment of $8,000
- Retain nationally-leading health care benefits
- New coverage for autism therapy care, chiropractic care and allergy testing
Offer details: (Source: GM Corporate News)
Congressman Tim Ryan joined striking workers Monday morning.
“This is the middle class of America that continues to erode and if we don’t support these folks, we’re not going to have much left,” he said.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday, calling on both sides to make a deal.
Senator Sherrod Brown released a statement Monday:
“All workers have the right to stand up for fair wages, better working conditions, and increased investments for plants in their local communities, including communities like Lordstown who have been hurt by GM’s recent restructuring. Autoworkers stood up and made sacrifices to help save GM when times were tough. All they are asking for is their fair share now that times are good. I urge GM to agree to a contract that honors the Dignity of Work and that helps Ohio autoworkers, communities and families who all help drive the success of the auto industry in Ohio and across the country.”
Brown said he is holding out hope that GM will reinvest jobs and a new product line in Lordstown.
“I want to continue to work to get GM to think about Lordstown in the future, especially for some of these new electric vehicles. Twenty of them are going to start manufacturing and I want to work with them on the technology. How and when they do the technological change and how they can retrain their workers.”
A person briefed on the bargaining says General Motors has offered the UAW an opportunity to make batteries for electric vehicles at the Lordstown plant in addition to the possibility of building electric vehicles for a company called Workhorse.
UAW Local 1112 President Tim O’Hara said he didn’t hear or know anything about the products.