KOKOMO, Ind. — It was a sea of red at Foster Park on Wednesday night as local United Auto Workers (UAW) members rallied and stood ready to walk off the job later this week.
The UAW is negotiating a new contract with General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler). The union is asking for a number of things including wage increases, profit sharing, job security and the return of cost of living adjustments, known as COLA.
“Seems like the rich want to get richer, and they want to leave the rest of us behind,” Chad Schwering said.
UAW President Shawn Fain, a Kokomo native, said on Monday night that the automakers have come up with wage increases but have rejected the other proposals.
“Some people use the word greed,” Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Vorhies said. “I don’t use the word greed for something like that. I use the word bulls**t.”
Many in attendance at Wednesday night’s rally came from a long line of union members and said they were worse off than those who came before them.
“They could support their families and they could live comfortably and we can’t now,” said Stellantis employee Brooke-Allison Hines.
Many pointed out the concessions the union made to save the auto industry more than a decade ago and now they say it’s time that the companies repay the favor.
“The union gave up COLA and all these other things and yet here they are making record profits and we’re not getting any of it back or they don’t wanna give it back,” Schwering said.
Some said they’re nervous about the possibility of the strike, but they believe the end result will be worth it.
“It’s definitely worth the fight,” Hines said. “We need to get what we deserve.”
In his update on Wednesday, Fain said the union will be doing “stand-up strikes,” which means they’ll be targeting certain factories to strike.
If an agreement is not reached, Fain said they’ll begin announcing where the first strikes will be on Thursday at 10 p.m.
“The billionaires keep getting richer and the middle class just keeps getting more poor and that needs to change,” said Kym Dieselberg.