Chicago Indymedia : http://chicago.indymedia.org/archive
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

Union Workers Strike at 3 Tank Manufacturing Facilities

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) -- A week into the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, union workers at three plants that produce military vehicles, including tanks, walked off their jobs early Monday.
Unionized Plant Workers Strike at 3
Tank Manufacturing Facilities

By ED GARSTEN
AP Auto Writer

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) -- A week into the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, union workers at three plants that produce military vehicles, including tanks, walked off their jobs early Monday.

More than 800 employees represented by the United Auto Workers went on strike at General Dynamics Land Systems facilities in Sterling Heights, Mich., Lima, Ohio,
and Eynon, Penn.

The company designs, manufactures and supports land and amphibious combat systems for the Army, the Marine Corps and allied nations, including the M1-A1 Abrams tank and armored personnel carriers.

Contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers continued past a midnight deadline without reaching an agreement, General Dynamics spokesman Pete Keating said.

Some workers at one of the three facilities affected by the strike say they walked off the job because of health care and pension issues.

``There's no health care for retirees after they retire,'' said Dwight Matthews, a designer at the facility in this Detroit suburb. ``We try to buy health care, but when you get to be 50 or 60 years old, no one wants to sell you health insurance.''

UAW vice president Nate Gooden said health care benefits for retired workers were ``something that UAW workers had and gave up during concessions, but now General Dynamics Land Systems is again profitable and has money to spend on expensive acquisitions,''

The company will continue production with nonunion
employees, Keating said. He would not discuss key contract issues.

On the picket line outside the Sterling Heights plant, clutches of a half-dozen striking workers gathered quietly at each entrance holding picket signs that said simply ``UAW on strike.''

Mindful that they are striking just as the United States is engaged in a war, several workers said they regretted the action, but felt it was appropriate.

``They should have thought about that when they gave our benefits away,'' said Al Logie, a mechanic at the Sterling Heights plant. ``It's bad timing, but what are you going to do?'' Logie said there was only one vote against strike at UAW Local 12.

``The contract ran out, we had to go,'' Matthews said.

About 470 employees stopped working at a battle tank facility in Lima, Ohio.

The Lima plant, which has about 550 employees, once employed 3,800 people. Reduced production of the M1-A1 tank resulted in layoffs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. New contracts with the Army, though, have added a few jobs and boosted job security.

Last month the plant received a contract worth up to $30.4 million to upgrade tanks with new electronics systems. The Army in June ordered eight heavy assault bridge vehicles from the plant.

The strike also affects more than 130 workers at a tank parts facility in Eynon, Pa., and about 220 employees at the company's headquarters, Keating said.

Earlier this year, General Dynamics Land Systems, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, landed a $4 billion deal to design futuristic armored combat vehicles.

On the Net:
General Dynamics Land Systems, www.gdls.com
United Auto Workers, www.uaw.org
 
 

Donate

Views

Account Login

Media Centers

 

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software