LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Members of the local United Auto Workers (UAW) union gathered outside the shuttered General Motors plant in Lordstown Monday in solidarity with the national union.
More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike.
Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.
Local workers who lost their jobs at GM Lordstown said they believe the last glimmer of hope for the local plant rested in the negotiations. They were prepared to strike when and if the time came.
“The company didn’t come to the table. They waited until the very last second to give any kind of proposal, and it didn’t meet the needs of our members from wages to benefits to temporary workers showing a road to permanent hire,” said Dan Morgan, UAW Local 1112 shop chairman.
Local UAW members have been on the picket line in Lordstown since midnight Sunday.
The collective bargaining agreement between the UAW and GM expired Saturday at midnight.
Despite ongoing talks since July, the parties remain divided on several key issues like job security, fair wage and affordable health care. Its been well over six months since the last Chevy Cruze rolled off the line at the GM Lordstown plant, ending a 53-year run of one of the largest manufacturing plant of its kind in North America. Since then the plant has been on unallocated status.
Local leaders responded to news of the pending strike Sunday. Congressman Tim Ryan, D-13th District, said the UAW workers deserve better.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday calling on both sides to make a deal.
A person briefed on the bargaining says General Motors has offered the UAW an opportunity to make batteries for electric vehicles at the Lordstown plant in addition to the possibility of building electric vehicles for a company called Workhorse.
UAW Local 1112 President Tim O’Hara said he didn’t hear or know anything about the products.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said he is holding out hope that GM will re-invest jobs and a new product line in Lordstown.
“I want to continue to work to get GM to think about Lordstown in the future, especially for some of these new electric vehicles,” Brown said. “Twenty of them are going to start manufacturing, and I want to work with them on the technology. – how and when they do the technological change and how they can retrain their workers.”
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