BY CARL GREEN
Collinsville – The brave band of Machinists fighting to save their pensions at Laura Buick GMC were still on strike heading into the Christmas holiday, nearly two months since they walked out following a unanimous strike vote.
Negotiations were scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20, when this week’s edition of the Labor Tribune was going to press, with the company was still demanding that workers agree to replace their pensions with 401(k) investment funds.
But in a scene worthy of a holiday movie, the St. Louis area Labor Movement has risen up to support the 52 members of Machinists Lodge 313, and four Teamsters Local 50 members who have been standing with them.
“All of Organized Labor is backing us, with time, money and food. Not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t stop by with a strong show of support,” Machinists District 9 business rep Roy Collins said. “We’re still pushing forward to maintaining our pension.”
One anonymous driver stopped at the picket line on Illinois 157 at the north end of Collinsville just long enough to give $1,000 in cash to the workers.
“I can’t get over it,” Collins said. “There’ve been so many donations of food. It makes me proud to be part of the Labor Movement.”
Drivers passing by continue to be supportive. Visits from the police have been frequent but cordial.
“They come out and make sure we are safe,” Collins said. “No hassles from the city at all.”
The workers themselves have grown closer and more committed to each other. “They have a much tighter bond than they did before the strike,” he added.
The Machinists received $2,253 from United Auto Workers Local 2250 after members passed the hat at a union meeting following their own successful strike against General Motors.
American Income Life bought Thanksgiving turkeys for each of the strikers and others donated dinner fixings.
On Nov. 29, some 150 workers and supporters spread out in a rainy-day rally along the roadway. The Machinists have also cited Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Teamsters locals 600, 688 and 50 and the Granite City chapter of SOAR – the United Steelworkers retirees – for their support.