Meeting erupts as Toledo Jeep workers voice strong opposition to UAW-backed sellout deal

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Picketing Toledo Jeep workers on September 15, 2023 [Photo: WSWS]

Strong opposition surfaced Sunday at an “informational” meeting called by the United Auto Workers Local 12 to sell the tentative agreement to Stellantis to workers at the Jeep assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio.

Rank-and-file workers who spoke with the World Socialist Web Site expressed hostility to the UAW-backed deal, which surrendered all the core demands raised by workers at the start of the strike. Workers at the Jeep plant were called out on strike September 15 as part of the phony and toothless “stand up strike” engineered by UAW President Shawn Fain.

WSWS supporters distributed copies of the statement issued by the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network calling for a ‘no’ vote on the tentative agreements with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

One worker said, “I didn’t stand out in the cold for six weeks to get this garbage contract.”

Another said, “This is not a ‘historic’ contract, not for us, not in any way shape or form.”

After a while several UAW officials came outside the University of Toledo auditorium where the campaigners were distributing the statement and starting yelling in menacing fashion at workers who took the leaflet. Most workers ignored them.

Workers expressed opposition to most aspects of the agreement: the 25 percent wage increase over four and a half years, the inadequate cost-of-living formula, the failure to convert all temp workers to full time, the failure to improve pensions or win pensions for new hires and failure to eliminate tiers.

Workers reported that inside the meeting there was vocal opposition to UAW International and Local 12 officials who defended the deal. When UAW Vice President for Stellantis Rich Boyer could not respond to a question posed from the floor about missing pages in the contract white book, loud shouts of “vote no” erupted.

Many workers who spoke to the WSWS expressed anger over the ambiguous language used throughout the contract, making it difficult to assess the actual impact of various provisions on workers, for example the conversion of temp workers.

Workers said that the more they studied the details of the contract, the less they liked it. A temporary part-time worker said, “I just hope we do vote it down.” She said the conversion of temp workers was a major issue. “Right now they are just pitting people against each other.”

“My dad retired from Jeep in 2015. He said we should all be at $40 an hour right now.” She spoke about the much-touted car lease program. “The car rental thing, they made it sound good, but then you read the fine print and I don’t qualify for it because I had tickets in the last year. They said your credit has to be of a specific range but on the paper it is a no money down, no credit check, but it’s in the fine print.”

“The majority of the TPTs are saying ‘no.’ I don’t like that the contract is so unclear. I have always heard that you say ‘no’ to the first offer.”

A veteran worker said, “I have looked at the highlights and I have already said ‘no.’

“What stuck out to me were the wages. We need more than just the things they took away in 2008-2009. They gave us something we should already have had. Then there is nothing for retirement. That’s wrong. We are all going to retire at some point or another.

“Everyone should be getting something.”

Another temp worker said, “I have been here for five and a half years. They promised I’d be rolled over to full time after two years, so I have been holding out for a long time. I am hoping for something better. But, there is always a loophole. I only worked two days last week. It is pretty hard to make it.”