UAW members striking on the picket lines are bracing for cold weather as the lengthy stalemate continues.
“Morale is still up high, and we know that if we have to be in it for the long haul, we know this is what we gotta do,” Local 573 President Mike Kalman said.
Local 573 is a Chrysler/MOPAR Parts Distribution Center in Streetsboro that’s been on strike for five weeks. Kalman said his employees are not only feeling the bite from the colder weather, but the pinch of not having a paycheck coming in.
“Especially with the pay disparity that we have here with the tier system, which we’re trying to get rid of,” he said. “It’s hard for them, especially for the younger kids. Even though we’ve been preparing, I’ve been telling them for every bit of a year, hey be prepared for this strike. It takes a toll on all of us.”
On Friday, UAW National President Shawn Fain said Ford, GM and Stellantis offered 23 percent raises across the board. But that’s not nearly enough for these workers.
“From what we lost just from 2019, 19% was just from inflation alone,” Kalman said. “So now you put on a modest raise of 4 or 5% and now we’re just breaking even.”
As the strike continues and the weeks pass by, those striking will be more and more affected by the changing temps.
“Obviously, Cleveland weather is starting to turn a little bit,” Kalman said. “And we’re going to be revamping some of our tents here and make sure they’re sturdy, because the stuff is going to start coming in sideways pretty soon. We’ll be ready for it.”
Kalman is hopeful negotiations will continue to progress and a deal can be struck so the 100-plus employees at Local 573 can get back to living a normal life, earning a fair wage.
“We’re hoping that if nothing starts happening here soon that he (Fain) starts applying more pressure with walking out at additional plants,” Kalman said.
Local 573 needs supplies, primarily snack food items and firewood to combat the cold. Kalman said his chapter is grateful for all the support they’ve already received but are counting on the kindness of the local community to keep the engines running.