Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 09:39:22 EST
Over 400 workers at Accuride in Henderson, KY went on strike in early 1998
against a union-busting "contract offer" that allowed for contracting out
all janitorial and skilled trades jobs and gutted seniority rights. After
the union offered to return to work unconditionally, the company locked out
the workers. Accuride manufactures truck wheels, including 17-inch wheel
used at Janesville and Louisville. Accuride was owned by Phelps Dodge which
spearheaded a union-busting drive against copper miners in the early 1980's
(by -Jan & Gene Austin Local 594)
In May, 2000 the International Executive Board (IEB) placed Local 2036 in
Administratorship and took over the Bargaining talks with the company.
On May 8, 2000, UAW Members and supporters picketed Solidarity House for
the first time on behalf of Local 2036. Some of the contributions were used
by Local 2036 Members to launch a nationwide campaign to restore the strike
benefits to these workers, who had been without pay and benefits for over a
In October, 2000 the IEB bowed to the pressure and reinstated their strike
benefits at DOUBLE the normal amount. Even more important, the IEB was also
forced to reinstate the health care to the 400 members.
In November, 2001, after 18 months more at the bargaining table, the IEB
presented the Members of Local 2036 with the contract THEY (the IEB) were
able to extract from Accuride.
It was the same contract they had already voted to reject 5 times which
included language that would negate seniority, restrict the grievance
procedure and ability of committeepersons to function in the plant,
contract out all maintenance, implement higher insurance premiums, allow
the company to alter the pension program at will, and give them the
unrestricted right to subcontract any rank-and-file work.
Less than 25% of the locked out workers would actually return under these
What would you do if the IEB presented you with a contract like this?
Probably what the Members of Local 2036 did: They voted it down by a 97%
International Strikes Back:
As a result of their turning down the same bad contract, the IEB has told
the Members of Local 2036 they will put the same contract up for a vote
January 12 and if they vote it down this time they will once again withdraw
the strike pay and benefits from the Local Union and pull their Charter.
With more than $800 Million dollars in the strike fund and approximately
400 Members in this Local, the UAW can hold out until the cows come in on
this one. After all, they organize these plants promising to protect and
serve. So let's see some protection!
Current Vice President and soon to be President, Ron Gettelfinger gave the
authorization for this Local to strike almost 4 years ago, without any
strategy on how to win that strike and now plans to abandon his decision.
(by Billy Robinson Local 2036)
WHEN? That is the question that everyone needs to be asking themselves,
when will it happen to me?
UAW Local 2036 was certified in 1979 by the Supreme court and won a first
contract with Firestone after a 4 1/2 month strike across Christmas in 1979.
21 years to the day, after signing that first contract the Local was again
forced to strike in order to save their Union rights only this time the
company was owned by Phelps Dodge, the Copper conglomerate and most
anti-union company in the country.
Soon -to-be "President appointed" Ron Gettelfinger told me to take the
Members on strike. "The Members have spoken" he said at the time.
After a month into the strike and getting no further the Members again
voted down a company proposal and voted to return unconditionally. All the
while we were following the instructions of the International UAW.
In every step over the next 17 months the International directed every
aspect of the Strike/lockout even standing in Louisville beside Terry
Thurman (newly appointed) Regional 3 Director as he told the nearly 500
Executive Officers of Locals from all over Region 3, "We will be on the
picket line one day longer" in support of Local 2036.
But one month later he was cutting all benefits off for Local 2036, telling
me on the phone, "It's time for you to get on with your lives, we can't win
The membership thought differently. They chose instead to continue the
dispute and remain on the picket line and fight back.
We immediately started going member to member trying to gather support,
something the International should have done in March 1998.
This made (UAW President Steve) Yokich mad I suppose, so in April they
summoned the Local 2036 Officers to Detroit to explain why the Local had
not "presented a company proposal to the membership for ratification?"
But the International was directing every phase of negotiations, and in
November of 1998 directed the Membership to not vote on another proposal
until the "company changed it", which is exactly what the members did.
So in August 1999, the International then said "because we have not voted
on a contract it is a lost cause".
In the show cause hearing when questioned about why the IEB had pulled the
benefits from Local 2036, Yokich replied, "You're not the first Local that
we have pulled the benefits from, far from the first and you won't be the
So I ask you "Are you going to be the next one?"
After a hard fought battle of members all over the country the IEB suddenly
decided to restore benefits, and lo and behold they even doubled them for a
period, in October 2000.
Then in October 2001, they reduced them and a month later told the officers
again, "Get on with your lives, it's a lost cause. On Jan 15 2002, we are
going to stop all benefits, strike pay and health care and if you don't
ratify that contract (and without a doubt it is the worst one we have ever
seen) then the IEB is going to pull your charter."
So the question is:
Why didn't Local 2036 receive the support of the UAW?
Why didn't the International let rank and file members know of the plight
of Local 2036?
WHY has the International gone so far out of it's way to not let other
Local's assist Local 2036 and even threaten members who defy them and try
Shouldn't you be made aware that you might be handling scab produced parts?
Or are you in danger of being NEXT?
If you believe in Solidarity and don't want to be next, then it is time you
started to do something about it!
Ask: Am I next?
Join together with other Unionists and be a part of taking our Union back
and throwing out the Company leadership that has taken over even into the
lowest levels of this union.
Email Billy: firstname.lastname@example.org
What can you do?
Help us demand that the UAW:
The Solidarity Pledge
- Continue Strike Benefits for UAW Local 2036, Making Solidarity the Top Priority
- Confront Anti Worker Corporations like Accuride and Stand Up for Workers' Rights Everywhere and Always
- Respect the Dignity and Autonomy of Local Unions
- Direct a National Campaign to Inform Americans that Truckers are Driving on Wheels Made by Replacement Workers (Remember what has occurred with tires made by replacement workers at Firestone!)
- Call Local 2036 and tell them you support them:270-826-8237 or Billy Robinson at home: 270-835-3111.
- Join The Sufferance email list and talk UNION with autoworkers across the country. Just send an email to: Sufferance@topica.com
- Talk to coworkers about this strike.
- Take the side of our Brothers and Sisters who fight for us all at Accuride
- Sign the Solidarity Pledge and send a copy with a donation to keep this fight going to:
Henderson Workers Solidarity Fund,
c/o Billy Robinson
PO Box 248
Sebree, KY 42455
"We are at a crossroads.
"Today big business exerts enormous pressure on us to compete against each
other in a dog eat dog contest that will only result in wrecking our
contracts, cutting our jobs and closing our plants. In the absence of
widespread Union friendship and unity, we are pressured to abandon
OURSELVES in order to compete with one another in a dog eat dog race to
"I reject this selfish, dog eat dog path.
"I believe in the Union values of Solidarity, Democracy and Equality.
"I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Union Brothers and Sisters
everywhere. I believe that if every autoworker supports every other
autoworker, we can build a Solidarity Movement to protect everyone and win
the fight for all of our jobs.
"I pledge to support my coworkers every day on the job and talk union
solidarity. That is something all of us can easily do. I will do whatever
I can to extend Solidarity throughout my plant and between our plants to
help win every strike and keep every plant open. If plants should close or
shifts be cut, I will demand that all of us return to work when business
picks up again. To this end I will support the UAW's original demand to
shorten our work week to 32 hours of work for 40 hours of pay.
"I pledge myself to back principled, democratic action of workers to revive
and extend Solidarity across the workplaces of our country: union and
nonunion, in steel and auto, on the farm and in the office, in our schools
and hospitals, in every place we work.
"I pledge myself to Solidarity in the memory of all the victims and heroes
of labor struggles who came before me and for a fair future for my kids and
Name Local Union
Rather than abandoning the members of Local 2036 as the international union
leaders say they are going to do Jan. 15 with $986 million in the UAW
Strike Fund, members of the Solidarity Committee at Ford in St. Paul feel
that all UAW members should stand in Solidarity with the Accuride strikers
and help them to win this fight! To us, "Solidarity Forever" should mean
just that - forever - not 47 months and you're on your own.
- Solidarity Committee, UAW Local 879, St. Paul.
Contact us: Sufferance@topica.com or call: 715-962-4365
Ford Plant Union Office: 651-696-0510 ext. 5
Support UAW Local 2036
Win the Accuride Strike!