UAW video details autoworkers’ concessions since the Great Recession, promises broken by the Big Three

UAW LOCAL 2250 President Katie Deatherage, a 20-year member of the United Auto Workers, shares what she personally gave up to help American auto makers become more profitable after the Great Recession in 2008 in a new video called “Broken Promises” released by the UAW. – UAW video screencap

UAW Stand Up Strike now in fourth week; UAW 2250 holding the line

Missouri Correspondent

To many, the United Auto Workers current demand for a 40 percent wage increase may sound over the top. That’s why the UAW recently released a video explaining why the demand is realistic, especially when you look at the concessions auto workers made to save the auto industry after the 2008 recession.

The video, called “Broken Promises,” is narrated by UAW President Shawn Fain and includes interviews with UAW Local 2250 President Katie Deatherage and former Local 2250 President Glenn Kage, who currently serves as chairman of the Local 2250 Community Action Program.

After receiving a government bailout in 2009, the Big Three automakers worked with  UAW members, who agreed to several concessions to save the auto industry. Those concessions were supposed to be made up for as the companies returned to business as usual, but they weren’t.

“They slashed our wages and killed our pensions,” Fain said in the video. “They took our retiree health care. They closed plants, killed jobs, destroyed communities and destroyed lives. They wrecked the economy and built a new economy, and in their economy the CEOs get everything and the working class gets nothing.”

Deatherage added: “I personally went for 12 years without a raise and without any additional benefits to allow the company to become profitable.”

Over the last 10 years, Fain explained, the Big Three have made a quarter of a billion in profits. At the same time, he said car prices are through the roof and CEO salaries are “to the moon.” In fact the Big Three CEOs have received an average 40 percent increase in compensation over the last four years.

Kage said: “Were it not for those concessions we made, the auto industry would not exist as we know it today.”

“The American auto industry was on the brink and the American autoworkers sacrificed everything,” Fain said in the video. “The deal was that UAW members take some short-term cuts for the long term survival. That’s the promise we made and that promise was broken.”

In addition to a 40 percent wage increase over the next four years – the UAW is also asking for a 32-hour workweek, an end to tiers and cost-of-living adjustments.

On Sept. 14, 12,700 UAW members at Ford, GM, and Stellantis walked out at midnight, marking the beginning of the UAW’s Stand Up Strike – the first ever to target all three automakers – starting with the GM Wentzville Assembly plant, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex and the Ford Michigan Assembly plant.

On Sept. 22, the UAW expanded the strike to include 38 additional parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis plants in 20 states. The union did not strike at any additional Ford plants at that time due to progress made in contract negotiations.

On Sept. 29, the UAW expanded its strike against Detroit automakers for the third time in three weeks, adding 7,000 workers at a Ford plant in Chicago and a General Motors assembly factory near Lansing, Mich.

On Oct. 6, minutes before Fain was scheduled to announce that the UAW was ready to shut gown GM’s biggest money maker in Arlington Texas, the company agreed in writing to place their electric battery manufacturing under the UAW’s national agreement.

“We are winning, making progress and headed in the right direction, and while today’s win is transformative, our goal is to win a record contract,” Fain said. “We view this as a direct result of the power of our membership.”

Kage told the Labor Tribune Local 2250 members are holding the line and standing strong.

“The morale remains high,” Kage said. “And we’re holding the line and making sacrifices to get a more fair and equitable contract. That’s what a strike is all about.”

If you’d like to help, UAW Local 2250 needs refreshments and snacks as well as your help on the picket lines. To join Local 2250 in its efforts, stop by one of five gates at the GM Wentzville Assembly plant at 1500 State Highway A, Wentzville, Mo.

Additionally, you can make a donation of any size to the St. Louis Labor Council’s drive to serve meals on the picket line. The meals will be prepared by The Irish Gypsy, a highly-respected union bar and grill that has played a prominent role in supporting many union issues over the years. Its employees are members of UNITE HERE Local 74; owner Denny Corrigan is a member of Insulators Local 1.

Contributions of any size should be made payable to “The Irish Gypsy” and mailed to the Labor Council’s office: UAW Food Fund, St. Louis Labor Council, 3301 Hollenberg Dr., Bridgeton, Mo. 63044.

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