The World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter spoke to Fiat Chrysler workers about the announcement by the United Auto Workers that it might call a strike at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday night.
A worker at the FCA transmission plant in Tipton, Indiana said, “I think they’ll put us on strike for a few days and say Sergio [Marchionne] wouldn’t budge and throw the same agreement at us with maybe some minor changes. Then we will have the option to just agree to it and get back to work or stay on strike for three more weeks while they go back to bargaining and we collect our crummy $200 a week. We can’t afford not to sign it at that point. So it’s kind of like a blackmail thing. A lot of people would vote ‘yes’ because otherwise they lose their house or car or whatever. They could probably make the contract worse at that point and get a ‘yes’ vote.”
The worker added, “Everyone seems very willing and excited to strike. We hope it forces Fiat Chrysler to listen to our demands and realize we are serious. I still don’t trust the UAW International, however. I think they have something up their sleeve. A strike might be their way to get us to give in. I think the UAW is doing this for the company to break us. So if they have until midnight, what would stop a strike? Them throwing a new contract at us with just a few hours left to decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’? I don’t trust them at all the more I think about it.”
A worker with four years at the Belvidere, Illinois plant said, “I just got news that we might go on strike at 11:59 Wednesday. It’s building some tension up, and we’re getting a little nervous. We don’t personally know if it’s going to be us, or it’s going to be Chrysler Transmission.
“The UAW is honestly giving no information. All the members are finding out from the news. The union stewards haven’t done a good job of communicating much of anything.”
Referring to the contract the UAW just pushed past 11,000 workers at farm equipment giant John Deere , he said, “It seems like there’s been a giant rush to shove this through, and that there’s been some corrupt politics. It sounds like kind of the same thing that’s going on here [at FCA].
When told that that the UAW tried to prevent supporters of the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter from speaking with Deere workers, he said, “They should’ve let people decide for themselves. If your idea is so great, you shouldn’t have to force it upon people. What are they hiding?
“With the profit-sharing they proposed, we’ll never see that money.
“Sergio says he wants to get rid of two-tier, but in reality he’s made a third tier and getting rid of the first. They haven’t had a raise in 10 years; the middle class is a dying class.
“It seems like all these unions are getting in bed with management and the companies. No matter what, the UAW gets more money. They just raised our union dues, and I’ve seen our union reps less and less.
“Autoworkers need to take a stand. Hundreds of thousands of autoworkers, and workers in general have to.”
A worker from the Toledo, Ohio Jeep plant said, “I’m befuddled about the possible strike. A lot of us seem to think it’s a stress release. It’s like the 2007 one where they struck GM for a couple days to get the stress out. Everyone is getting pumped up to strike and FCA is scared. The membership is pissed and furious. We got cheated, we got lied to, and we were just flat out not told anything. We pay these jerks’ salaries. For them to treat us like this is disrespectful and rude and we’re pissed.
“There’s a letter on some UAW local’s Facebook page from an attorney about ‘outside agitators.’ I first thought who was this guy? Is he a company or union mouthpiece? Then I saw it was from a law firm with the union. Go figure. They’re going to attack the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter because the union’s interests are self-serving. Some union mouthpiece and I were arguing about this. I asked ‘Can you find one thing they have posted that was a lie? One thing that was not fact-based or was exaggerated?’ The rep answered, ‘No, not at this time.’
“My opinions are based on facts from my own research and the WSWS. It’s facts and the UAW can’t deny them, hide them or make them fit their needs.”