UAW strike has arrived in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI – At exactly 11 a.m. on Friday, September 22, about 100 workers at a Milwaukee auto parts distribution center owned by Stellantis exited the rundown brick building and joined the national United Auto Workers (UAW) strike. These brave workers lined up along the sidewalk and listened attentively to a short speech by Joseph Neu, president of the UAW Local 75 in Milwaukee.
“Remember the purpose you’re striking for – equality in your contracts, better wages, for the future, and for this plant. We stay here, and we don’t move. We’re asking the company to stay put. Let us make our future the right way,” Neu said.
Once instructions for the picket were explained, Milwaukee made it officially known that its workers had joined the national UAW strike.
The workers are demanding an increase in wages, the end of the current tiered wage system, and overall benefits, such as more paid time off. Beyond these demands, many workers expressed concern over their future. This past week, reports have come out of Stellantis’ intention to close down this distribution center, the last of its kind in Milwaukee. These efforts are part of a larger plan by Stellantis to close down smaller distribution centers in the Midwest and consolidate the distribution of auto parts within a facility in Belvidere, Illinois. While Stellantis justifies the decision as one to improve the company, these workers represented by UAW Local 75 recognize it as a decision to increase company profits and do away with hundreds of workers.
This announcement comes just months after Master Lock announced the decision to close their plant in Milwaukee. The continued deindustrialization of Milwaukee and moving operations to places with lower labor costs only serves to benefit the rich owners at the expense of the workers who have lost their jobs or stand to lose them. But these workers will continue to fight back to preserve their jobs, for themselves, for their families, and also for their communities.
As UAW President, Shawn Fain continues to rally the 150,000 members of this union in what’s shaping up to be a fierce fight against the “Big Three,” – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Militant trade union activists will need all the support they can get from other unions and communities. In Milwaukee, various unions showed up in solidarity with their union siblings at UAW Local 75, which intends on holding the picket line from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday until they win their demands.