Dozens of United Auto Workers members gather before dawn to make a stop at a main entrance to General Motors Major Technical Center in suburban Detroit (October 11)

UAW's strike against General Motors is the hottest topic on the floor every day at Ford's truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

First, it is the solidarity behind the GM strike. Many Ford workers believe GM strikers are sacrificing for them. But there is also curiosity. The deal that the union will eventually get with GM will affect the fate of hourly workers at Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Then there is the fear.

"If Ford is unwilling to bow at the same sticking points as GM, then UAW can take us all on strike," said James Benson, a team leader in the body shop at the Dearborn Truck facility. "A better part of our workforce is probably not prepared for anything long-term. They are worried about a strike."

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Kevin Donnellon, 23, of Eastpointe, a striking GM worker checks out a box of supplies containing canned food and ramen at Local 163 in Westland, Monday, October 14, 2019. Ford and FCA workers donate food and other items to help strikers make ends meet. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)

Kl. 01:01 September 16, about 46,000 GM workers went on a nationwide strike. GM and UAW dealers continue to meet every day, well into the evening. The last most important sticking points have been how long development workers achieved full pay, product distribution and pension updates and 401 (k) formulas.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers may not be eager to live on $ 275 a week in strike pay as GM workers have done for a month, but they are stepping up to help the union's brothers and sisters with fence line support and cash and food donations.

"They're all picketing, every one of them," said Joe Garrett, local 163's store chairman at GM's Romulus Powertrain.

Every day, 15 to 30 Ford and FCA workers show up at the three Romulus Powertrain gates to join the GM strikers and spend an hour on the picket line, Garrett said.

"They lift the mood on the poor line, and it's just massive care and giving," Garrett said.

Affecting the future

Many members of the Ford and FCA UAW say they look at GM calls intensely.

In pattern negotiation, UAW chooses a target company to negotiate with first, then uses that agreement as a template for negotiations with the other two.

"At the Dearborn Truck Plant, we published a weekly bulletin, and the most important thing we talked about is the importance of this strike to Ford and Chrysler workers," said Gary Walkowicz, negotiator at the F-150 plant.

Five to six days a week Walkowicz fences with GM's UAW workers at Romulus Powertrain and Detroit-Hamtramck plants for about an hour each time, he said.

"There were Chrysler and Ford workers there, too," Walkowicz said. "We've had a few days when we've had different crews come out, and we've had good turnout. We had a day with about 100 Ford workers coming to Romulus."

Most of the Ford and FCA UAW members are ready to help because "this fight is our fight," Walkowicz said. "This can have a huge impact on our contract and our future."

Local 600 represents Dearborn Trucks union workers. Around 4200 hour workers populate the plant. Ford union members are troubled by the same problems as GM's unions.

One case is temporary workers, which make up about 10% of Dearborn Truck's hourly staff, he said. Compared to regular workers, temporary workers pay less and receive fewer benefits, but yes bber often does similar jobs with no path to permanence.

"Most of the workers in the plant feel that they need to be made permanent," Walkowicz said. "It's totally unfair."

Ford workers will have higher wages as well, noting the large profits Detroit automakers have registered over the last four years, Walkowicz said.

GM, for its part, has said it has shared success through annual profit sharing checks to its workers. GM wants to lower overall labor costs to remain competitive against foreign, foreign-based car manufacturers based in the United States. These imports currently have a cost benefit of $ 13 per employee when it comes to total labor costs, including wages and benefits.

Ford strikes?

Benson has worked on the Dearborn Truck, which Ford builds the F-150 and Raptor pickups, for 20 years. He has the "utmost respect" for GM strikers, who he said "take care of it with the strike."

"I look at how dug both sides are, and if this goes any further, it's not unheard of for UAW to say: & # 39; We move on to the next company and work with them, & # 39; is Ford, "Benson said." Or strike us all for more exploitation. "

Benson said he has saved his money to prepare for a possible strike. In the meantime, he reads all the news he can

Dave Kowalski, who has worked at Dearborn Truck for 25 years, doesn't expect a strike at Ford though, he said, "Most UAW people are pretty steady to make sure we reap some of the billions of dollars they have earned. "

Kowalski has not yet crossed a GM picket line, but he said he" absolutely "plans to do so.

Good Samaritans

In addition to time on the line, other UAW citizens have provided food and other goods to help strikers who lose their savings to survive in strike pay.

"We have asked our workers to go out and go on the picket line and donate items as gift cards," Walkowicz said. a good answer. ”

Local 600 has delivered dozens of $ 25 gift cards to Local 163 for Meijers, Garrett said.

"I can't even name all of their names, but Jay from Rouge came in here last Friday and had five cars full of food and stuff to give us," Garrett said. "It's amazing what they've done to give us support."

Similarly, members of Local 900 in Wayne, representing Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, which builds the Ranger pickup, have come every day to donate items or support the pickle line, Garrett said. Also Local 3000, representing Ford's Flat Rock Assembly Plant; and Local 1248, which represents FCA's Mopar, have given gifts of time and goods, Garrett said.

"I've seen guys take three $ 100 bills out of their wallets and drop it in the jar for our members," Garrett said. "The amount of financial support they have given us has been enormous. Ford and Chrysler people keep us afloat on their donations."

Follow Jamie L. LaReau on Twitter: @jlareauan . [19659052] Read or share this story: Chapter19659053 ]
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