UAW Local 573 is the only chapter in Northeast, Ohio on the picket lines joining the fight for better wages on Friday along with 37 other parts and distribution plants.
“Solidarity is showing strong,” Local 573 President 573 Mike Kalman said. “I got people from all around the country calling me. The overwhelming support throughout the community and the state and even the nation has been unbelievable.”
Kalman said morale is high for the 100 employees striking at the MOPAR parts distribution site, where teams are striking in four-hour shifts, 24-hours a day.
But what they really want to see is progress in negotiations.
“Ford’s making progressions,” he said. “Chrysler’s actually kind of in a distant second. They’re starting to move a little bit, and GM is still kind of like a third out of those three out of the big three.”
The Ford Motor Company released a statement on the strike on Sept. 22:
“Ford is working diligently with the UAW to reach a deal that rewards our workforce and enables Ford to invest in a vibrant and growing future. Although we are making progress in some areas, we still have significant gaps to close on the key economic issues. In the end, the issues are interconnected and must work within an overall agreement that supports our mutual success.”
UAW is asking for double-digit pay raises, the elimination of employee tiers, defined benefit pensions for all workers, more paid time off and better pay and benefits for retirees to list a few points.
But if the stalemate continues, we could see the strike expand to General Motors plants like UAW Local 1005 in Parma.
“We’re still waiting for that call, if need be,” Local 1005 President Dan Schwartz said. “And now we’re 10 days into this thing and you know we still don’t have anything that’s a productive proposal to us.”
Kalman said the 100 employees at the Mopar Parts Distribution Center are prepared to be on the picket lines for the foreseeable future. But with negotiations progressing, he doesn’t see this extending out past the middle of October.
“As we get further along, especially with Ford now leading the way, that’s going to put pressure on the other two corporations,” Kalman said.
Local 573 is expecting a busy week ahead. On Monday, several state representatives and congresswoman Emilia Sykes are expected to show support at a rally at 2 p.m.
FOX 8 will continue to follow this story as it develops.