The Big Three aren’t the only employers facing UAW pickets
UAW Local 677 strikers on the picket line against Mack Trucks, At center, showing solidarity, is U.S. Sen. John Fetterman. | Photo via UAW

DETROIT—Saying Ford Motor Company hadn’t changed its contract offer in two weeks, the Auto Workers bargainers had 8,700 members of Local 862 in Louisville, Ky., struck the firm’s “iconic and extremely profitable” truck plant there at 6:30 pm on Oct. 11.

Separately, 73% of voting UAW Local 677 members at the Mack Truck plant in Allentown, Pa., rejected the firm’s contract offer and walked out at 7 a.m. The local represents 3,714 Mack Truck workers. They had to strike for many of the same reasons UAW launched its “Stand Up!” plant-by-plant strikes against the Detroit automakers.

The Stand Up strategy keeps the automakers off balance and increases pressure on them to move at the bargaining table. The Ford walkout puts the total number of UAW strikers against Ford, GM, and Stellantis—formerly FiatChrysler, over 23,000, not counting workers whom the car companies idled when it shut down parts feeder plants for ones the strike closed. UAW represents 150,000 workers combined at Detroit’s Big 3.

“Unfortunately, we had to escalate our actions,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video to members after talks halted at Ford headquarters. “The bargaining committee here at Ford has been bustin’ their asses” to get a good contract. “The offer today…was the exact same offer they [Ford] gave us two weeks ago.

“We’ve been very patient, but they’re not taking us seriously,” which led to a call to Local 862 President Todd Dunn to let him know it was time to take the workers out “and join the fight,” Fain said.

“If they’re not going to come to the table and meet our membership’s needs…It’s on them.”

“We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message,” Fain added in the video. “It’s time for a fair contract at Ford and the rest of the Big Three. If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it.”

Fain did not discuss any numbers either in the video or in his formal letter to Volvo North America’s labor relations director in Greensboro, N.C. That foreign firm owns Mack Trucks.

But both Mack Truck Local 677 workers in a video they posted on the union’s website and Fain in his letter, enumerated them.

“Inflation rises but our wages don’t go anywhere,” one Mack Truck worker said in that video. The cost of living increases had been eliminated and workers want them back, added another. Several cited company changes in medical benefits.

“As you are aware, UAW members and workers across the country are mobilizing to demand their fair share” of the profits they produce, Fain officially told Volvo’s HR chief. He said talks have lasted three months “and many topics remain at issue: Wage increases, the COLA, job security, wage progression” to the top rank among them.

Other outstanding issues are overtime, holiday and work schedules, job security, safety and health in the Allentown plant, pensions and 401(k)s, and health care and prescription drug prices.

Fain said Local 677 would contact Volvo HR to arrange a time and place to restart the talks. The workers expect a struggle. He made another Big 3 strike announcement at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on October 13.

“We built the best trucks in the U.S.,” one Mack Truck worker summed up. “If it takes a week, if it takes two weeks, if it takes six months, we’re going to fight that battle.”


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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.