UAW strikes truckmaker over outsourcing

The United Auto Workers union walked out Tuesday at Navistar International plants in Indianapolis and elsewhere, contending the company outsourced work at an Ohio truck plant in violation of a labor agreement.

The union announced the strike by about 4,000 UAW members at 5 p.m. Tuesday, halting contract talks in suburban Chicago that had begun nearly three weeks ago to replace an expired labor agreement.

The UAW represents about 1,625 workers at an Indianapolis foundry and diesel assembly plant that supplies Ford with engines for full-size pickups. The walkout also includes about 400 UAW members at Navistar’s Fort Wayne engineering center.

“It’s an unfair labor practice strike. I don’t think it’s going to be that long, but it’s hard to say,” said Roland Rusie, president of UAW Local 98 at the Indianapolis diesel plant.

Navistar’s operating arm is International Truck and Engine Corp., or ITE, which runs the Indianapolis plants.

Navistar transferred work from the International Truck plant in Springfield, Ohio, to plants in Mexico and Texas, violating a labor agreement that bars such moves, the union charges.

“ITE executives moved our work to Mexico and to non-union plants in Texas, canceled our supplemental unemployment benefits, and ignored our job security program,” said General Holie8field, a UAW vice president, in a prepared statement.
Roy Wiley, spokesman for Warrenville, Ill.-based ITE, said the company has been “negotiating in good faith.”

“The union’s allegations are entirely unfounded and false, and I’m convinced (we) will be vindicated once we get into the NLRB process,” Wiley said.

In Indianapolis, workers reportedly set up picket lines at the manufacturing complex at 5565 Brookville Road shortly after the strike was announced.

The UAW has had no major strikes at Navistar since a five-month walkout began in November 1979 against the company, then known as International Harvester, Rusie said.

That 1979 strike, followed by the recession of 1980-81, flattened Harvester, which then employed more than 35,000 UAW members, and set in process a restructuring that led to a downsizing and closing of its massive Fort Wayne truck assembly plant.


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