‘However long it takes,’ longtime Ford worker says of the UAW strike
Samantha Litton of Taylor has worked at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant for three years. “It shouldn’t take eight years to get top pay,” Litton said. (Ken Coleman/Michigan Advance)
As the United Auto Workers strike against the Detroit Three enters its fourth day, workers say that they are in it “for the long haul.”
Samantha Litton of Taylor has worked at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant for three years.
“It shouldn’t take eight years to get top pay,” Litton told the Michigan Advance on Monday.
The UAW represents about 150,000 members across the country. For the first time in the union’s 88-year history, all three Detroit automakers — Stellantis, Ford and General Motors — are the strike targets.
The union has three initial strike targets: Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
The labor union is fighting for increased wages, a 32-hour work week and better pension benefits, among other issues such as an end to tiered compensation between workers with different lengths of service.
Darnell Littleton and Edgar Litton, Samantha Litton’s father, are both Ford Michigan Assembly Plant workers for decades who also were on the picket line Monday morning. One of their concerns is that UAW members have a two-tier compensation system that offers vastly different pay and benefits between workers based on their lengths of service. UAW members say tiered compensation hurts workplace morale and cripples their union.
“We are in it for the long haul,” said Edgar Litton of Taylor, who has nearly 35 years of work experience at the plant. “However long it takes.”
Ford faces another strike in North America. The company’s contract with Unifor, a trade union representing Canadian autoworkers, expires Monday night.
A number of state and national politicians have come out to support union workers, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.).
Meanwhile, UAW Local 2500 members who work at Blue Cross Blue Shield in various positions, including the company’s customer service call center department, seemed resolute in their decision last week to go on strike.
“We are asking for increases in wages and how long it takes for a new-hire employee to go to max pay,” Derrick Jackson, UAW Local 2500 vice president, who represents about 600 members, speaking with the Advance on Thursday in downtown Detroit. “You can be an employee for 15 and 20 years and not get max pay.”
Jackson also said that job outsourcing outside and Michigan, and in some cases the United States, has reduced the number of his union workers.
This story was produced by Michigan advance, a States Newsroom affiliate.
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