Feb 4, 2008
Five Freightliner workers were fired last April. Recently, four of the workers came to meetings at Flint, Detroit, and Chicago to tell others of their case.
The five were leaders of UAW Local 3520's Bargaining Committee at a Freightliner truck plant in Cleveland, North Carolina. Freightliner let their contract run out last March 31 and presented a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the Bargaining Committee. The Committee did not accept it and management proceeded to run the plant as if it were a non-union operation. The Committee then, based on a membership vote, called a strike.
But after several hours on strike, the Local 3520 president broke ranks and, allied with higher-ups in the union, countermanded the Bargaining Committee and ordered the workers back to work, without a vote, without a contract. Obviously the Local president did this with the full support and urging of the UAW International. This created enough confusion to break the strike apart.
Freightliner then fired eleven of the Bargaining Committee who had voted in favor of the strike. The company did offer the Bargaining Committee members “last chance” letters as the price of returning to work.
The Freightliner Five refused to sign and go along with the rotten agreement.
Their story can be found on their website, www.justice4five.com. The long and short of it is that the Bargaining Committee didn’t just collapse, when faced with brazen company attacks. But the top UAW leaders refused to back them up. Never mind that these workers were among the very first to organize for the UAW at Freightliner!
In other words, the UAW International once more took the company’s side against workers and their elected representatives.
It’s up to workers to determine how best to send back some messages of their own.
Support for the Freightliner Five can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 5144
Statesville, NC 28687.