Workers at UAW Local 900 holding the line at Michigan Assembly
Donated supplies fill the hall of UAW Local 900. | Cameron Harrison / People's World

DETROIT—With picket signs in hand, United Auto Workers with Local 900 Region 1A in Wayne, Mich., occupy the gates at the large assembly plant just off Michigan Avenue across from their union hall.

These workers have been out on strike since early last Friday at midnight when the union announced the first facilities to be targeted in the “Stand Up Strike.”

The Michigan Assembly Plant is where the Ford Motor Company produces the Bronco as well as the Ranger pickup truck. Roughly 4,600 people work here. The final assembly and paint departments are currently conducting the initial work stoppage.

“Ford makes so much money that it only makes sense that we strike to get what’s ours,” a young worker told People’s World. He noted that despite being employed at the plant for only 60 days, the union is still paying him the full strike pay.

The union has no tiers for strike pay, regardless of how long the workers have been members, but at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, workers performing the same job make vastly different wages based on the companies’ tiered system.

Solidarity comes in all forms – including donuts. | Cameron Harrison / People’s World

Solidarity on the picket line is a constant. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is—one will hear dozens of honks from vehicles driving by, fists of support thrown up outside of passenger windows, workers from other unions showing up to walk the line, and community members stopping by to let the workers know they are valued and supported.

One car drove by covered with pro-union slogans painted on the windows and filled with children smiling and waving. They drew cheers from the picket line.

Afterwards, a woman who works on the line in Livonia explained that she brought her grandchildren out to the picket line the day before. She said she wants them to know what their grandma is fighting for: “A better life for them and for the future” of all her fellow worker’s families. She was hoping that her plant would be called out to strike that first night, but she’s ready for it if the time comes.

A semi-truck drove by and honked in solidarity. “They must be with the Teamsters! They will never cross our picket line,” declared another picketer. This is important because at Michigan Assembly, the workers are not only fighting the bosses, but also keeping a watchful eye out for scabs and independent trucks who do not care if they cross a picket line.

“I was there for two hours, and we blocked six semis for the maximum 10 minutes each. The line is very strong, and vehicles cannot ‘sneak’ in,” he said. “The management of the picket line is very good.”

A spirited union member, wearing a red Local 900 shirt, said, “Solidarity has been a blessing for us. We had brothers and sisters come from different UAW locals to drop off coffee, donuts, cookies, pizza…you name it. We’ve also had support from different union members like United Food and Commercial Workers, Teamsters, Detroit Firefighters, Teachers, Building Trades, and some others, too.”

Because of the historic and national nature of the strike, many workers in different industries see the battle at the Big Three as a fight not only for the auto workers, but for the entire working class.

People’s World spoke to a UFCW member on the line about why they showed up. They said that the struggle against corporate greed is a fight that impacts the entire working class, whether you work at a grocery store, on an assembly line, or in a meatpacking facility.

“We’re keeping a watchful eye on this strike because when these workers win big, and our contract is up, I know my UAW brothers and sisters will be there for us if we vote to go on strike,” they said.

The auto workers strike coincides with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan strike, where the workers are also represented by the UAW. Donations and other solidarity efforts from the Southeast Michigan labor movement and community at large are more welcome than ever as the UAW continues to support both efforts.

UAW Region 1, which covers some Southeast Michigan UAW locals, has been working hard to collect donations for striking BCBS-MI workers. While necessary, strikes are hard for a lot of working people. Donations of canned food, baby supplies, pet food, toiletries, dish soap, etc., go a long way to keep the workers stable and able to be out there on the line for a protracted battle with the companies.

The Detroit Club of the Communist Party USA recently held a donation drive for supplies for UAW Region 1. The drive netted a trove of donated supplies, including paper towels, canned food, feminine hygiene products, over-the-counter medications, and other essential items that were requested by the union.

Members of the Washtenaw Club of the CPUSA showing solidarity on the picket line at Michigan Assembly. | Cameron Harrison / People’s World

For some who donated during the club’s drive, it was the first time they had participated in any capacity to support a strike. “It was a whole community effort—we asked our coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors to help out,” one member of the CPUSA club said. “We didn’t know what to expect at first, but people ended up really contributing.”

While it has only been a week since the UAW called the strike, first at three different plants in three different states, it appears that the battle for a fair and just contract might be a long one. UAW President Shawn Fain announced recently that if the Big Three don’t come to the bargaining table with significant movement by this Friday, more automotive plants and UAW locals will be called to strike.

The workers in Local 900, however, are optimistic about their struggle.

“This is my first time on strike ever, and I am ready for it,” said one striking worker, holding a picket sign that read “End Tiers: No 2nd Class Workers.”

“It is our work and our time that makes these cars that everybody wants. But we can’t even afford to buy them,” he said. “Bring it on, Ford!”


We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Cameron Harrison
Cameron Harrison

Cameron Harrison is a Labor Education Coordinator for the People Before Profits Education Fund. Based in Detroit, he was a grocery worker and a proud member of UFCW Local 876, where he was a shop steward. He writes about the labor and people’s movements and is a die-hard Detroit Lions fan.