Apr 30, 2007
In Cleveland, South Carolina, on April 2, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) at a Freightliner plant went on strike. Twelve hundred workers were on layoff, and the company was demanding other concessions. When the workers’ contract expired, several hundred decided it was time to strike.
Freightliner first announced that all strikers were fired. Then they changed it to only eleven fired. They needed the workers to get back to production, and they fired eleven to intimidate others. At least six of the eleven were the workers’ elected representatives, from the local bargaining committee.
And how did higher UAW officials react to this attack on their membership and local leadership? They supported the company! Quoted in the local papers, UAW Regional Director Gary Casteel said there had been no need for the workers to strike. He also said, “There are two things a company will take the hardest stance on – workplace violence and an unauthorized work stoppage. They are not going to reinstate them.”
With those words, he gave his stamp of approval to the company’s action.
Workers gave their answer to Casteel and Freightliner when they voted down the contract the top UAW leadership had proposed to them.
Casteel’s statements and conduct simply show – once again! – that when it’s time for a fight, today’s top union leadership is found on the wrong side of the barricades.