By Sarah Shurge – After nearly seven weeks, the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the “Big Three” (Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis) has finally come to an end.
On Friday, September 15th, the UAW launched a strike against the “Big Three” in an effort to encourage negotiations with each carmaker. It was the first time in history that the UAW staged a simultaneous strike against all three automakers.
The UAW was seeking wage increases and other demands.
The union expanded its strike against the automakers each week that the strike was ongoing and reached 46,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 auto workers on strike at eight assembly plants and 38 parts warehouses across the nation.
“We’re out there every day in all weather elements. We’re out there for not only our cause, but the cause for future employees,” said Mike Smith, UAW Local 900 Vice President during the strike.
Members were required to be on the picket line for six hours, one day a week. They remained on the picket lines until Wednesday, October 25th, when the union announced the tentative deal with Ford.
“I can’t say enough about President Shawn Fain, Vice President Chuck Browning, and the national negotiators,” said Smith. “We were very fortunate to have three of our own members on the negotiations staff. They were instrumental in delivering this historic agreement.”
Three of Local 900’s members were a part of the negotiation team at the main table: Dwayne Walker: Local 900 President, Scott Elliott: Michigan Assembly Plant Chairman, and Mike Beydoun: Skill Trades District Committee Person.
Members of Local 900 voted 82% in favor of the four year-and-eight month deal, the UAW said in a statement Thursday, November 2nd.
“We [Ford Michigan Assembly Plant] were the first ones out, and the first ones to ratify the agreement,” said Smith. “That shows that the majority of the membership was happy with the tentative agreement that our national negotiators brought to us.”
Voting by Ford’s union members will continue through Friday, November 17th.
“I love my city and I can’t thank them enough for all their love and support for the Local 900 strike,” said Smith.
Businesses like Northside True Value Hardware donated items like a tent canopy to keep the rain off members, hand warmers, coolers, and bug spray. DICK’S Sporting Goods donated two 10×10 canopies. Frank’s Firewood donated firewood to keep members warm. Norm’s Market donated hot dogs. Michigan Halla Meats donated over 200 pounds of hamburger. Jimmy John’s donated bread to make sandwiches. Little Caesars donated pizza. US12 Bar and Grill donated food and other non-perishable items.
“I have to thank Wayne Releaf and Emmit from Club Canton Bar for allowing us to use their parking lots, Avis Ford for renting the four passenger vans we used to transport our members, and Jack Demmer Ford for all their support and helping repair the vans we rented to keep transportation available for all the workers,” said Smith.
Many other businesses and residents showed support by donating water, bags of ice, firewood, and non-perishable items for the Local 900 food pantry.
Members and retirees also showed support by volunteering to drive the shuttle vans, walk the line, help in the kitchen, and make food.
“I need to give a huge shout out to Ebony Kennedy (Community Chair), Katie Martin (Chair of Retirees), and all the members that were working in the Local 900 kitchen. They played a huge role in keeping the morale up and supporting the workers,” said Smith.
Emergency responders also supported the UAW.
“I can’t say thank you enough to the Wayne Police Department and Fire Department for how they worked with Local 900 and how they navigated keeping people safe,” said Smith.
“The Local 900 strike was so successful that we did not have one injury or one ticket issued. That’s huge.”
The Local 900 strike ran so smoothly due to the immense support from so many people on both the outside and the inside.
“I need to give another shout out to Bill Johnson (Financial Secretary) and his team that made sure every employee received their strike pay, and Greg O’Neil (Plant Chairman for ISA) that was out there every day on the line supporting every one of our striking members,” said Smith. “The members never lost support. They never lost momentum.”
Smith has been the Local 900 vice president since 2011 and has worked for Ford Motor Company for 33 years.
“My heart bleeds UAW and I’m a proud Ford employee,” said Smith. “This is not just a labor organization, it’s a community driven organization.”
UAW Local 900 has hosted and participated in events such as: Red Cross blood drives, food drives, food banks, coat drives, back-to-school drive with Hill Crest Bible Church, Adopt an Angel with Wayne-Westland Goodfellows, Trunk-or-Treat, Stuff the Bronco, Stuff the Bus, and much more.
Even after dealing with a nearly seven week strike, the Local 900 is already planning their Adopt an Angel program to support less fortunate families for Christmas.
If you’d like to get involved or support the UAW Local 900, they collect eyeglasses for Lions Club, Cell Phones for Soldiers with the Wayne Police Department, or you can drop off gently used clothing that they share with Veteran’s Haven or Lighthouse Church.
UAW Local 900 is located at 38200 Michigan Ave in Wayne.
For more information about UAW Local 900 or upcoming events, you can find them on Facebook by searching “UAW Local 900” or call (734) 721-2530.