10/24/07

UAW tactical strike hits Springfield, OH

About 1,200 workers at the International Truck and Engine Corp. plant on Urbana Road walked off the job at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The strike began after negotiations between United Auto Workers and International broke down late Tuesday afternoon, said UAW Local 402 boss Charlie Hayden.

The national contract between UAW and International expired Oct. 1 but the two sides continued negotiations off and on since then.

Roy Wiley, company spokesman, confirmed the UAW notified the Warrensville, Ill.-based company of the strike but would not comment otherwise. Members of local 402 and 658 — which include technical and clerical workers — went on strike as part of a nationwide move with more than 4,000 UAW members striking in six states, according to a UAW press release.

In Springfield, some 700 employees already were laid off in late September, said Hayden, after the company halted truck productions until a contract was agreed upon. Production was moved to plants in Texas and Mexico.

"That was unfair labor practice," said Hayden. "We were fine building those trucks here."

Other UAW workers remained in the paint and metal stamping areas of the plant during the production halt.

Hayden said national union representatives have not been in touch with the company since the strike began.

With temperatures hovering in the 50s, sporadic rain and wind gusts up to 15 mph, Hayden was busy coordinating a schedule to relieve strikers and keep them warm.

Members at Local 402 headquarters, just south of the plant, prepared barrels of wood and hot coffee while strikers holding signs that read "UAW On Strike. Unfair Labor Practice" prepared for what could be a long night.

"We just want to keep our jobs," said Jim Wirkner, who has been on the job 30 years.

Hayden declined to elaborate on details of why the talks were halted.

He did say UAW would be on strike until an agreement is reached.

"It's tough," Hayden said. "I just don't like what we have to do. It's much easier if the company you work for tries to work with you."

(daytondailynews.com)

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