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Accuride History

---------- From:
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 09:39:22 EST

Dear Friends,

Over 400 workers at Accuride in Henderson, KY went on strike in early 1998 against a union-busting "contract offer" that allowed for contracting out all janitorial and skilled trades jobs and gutted seniority rights. After the union offered to return to work unconditionally, the company locked out the workers. Accuride manufactures truck wheels, including 17-inch wheel used at Janesville and Louisville. Accuride was owned by Phelps Dodge which spearheaded a union-busting drive against copper miners in the early 1980's in Arizona.

(by -Jan & Gene Austin Local 594)

In May, 2000 the International Executive Board (IEB) placed Local 2036 in Administratorship and took over the Bargaining talks with the company. On May 8, 2000, UAW Members and supporters picketed Solidarity House for the first time on behalf of Local 2036. Some of the contributions were used by Local 2036 Members to launch a nationwide campaign to restore the strike benefits to these workers, who had been without pay and benefits for over a year.

In October, 2000 the IEB bowed to the pressure and reinstated their strike benefits at DOUBLE the normal amount. Even more important, the IEB was also forced to reinstate the health care to the 400 members. In November, 2001, after 18 months more at the bargaining table, the IEB presented the Members of Local 2036 with the contract THEY (the IEB) were able to extract from Accuride.

It was the same contract they had already voted to reject 5 times which included language that would negate seniority, restrict the grievance procedure and ability of committeepersons to function in the plant, contract out all maintenance, implement higher insurance premiums, allow the company to alter the pension program at will, and give them the unrestricted right to subcontract any rank-and-file work. Less than 25% of the locked out workers would actually return under these conditions.

What would you do if the IEB presented you with a contract like this? Probably what the Members of Local 2036 did: They voted it down by a 97% margin.

International Strikes Back:
As a result of their turning down the same bad contract, the IEB has told the Members of Local 2036 they will put the same contract up for a vote January 12 and if they vote it down this time they will once again withdraw the strike pay and benefits from the Local Union and pull their Charter. With more than $800 Million dollars in the strike fund and approximately 400 Members in this Local, the UAW can hold out until the cows come in on this one. After all, they organize these plants promising to protect and serve. So let's see some protection!

Current Vice President and soon to be President, Ron Gettelfinger gave the authorization for this Local to strike almost 4 years ago, without any strategy on how to win that strike and now plans to abandon his decision.

(by Billy Robinson Local 2036)

WHEN? That is the question that everyone needs to be asking themselves, when will it happen to me?

UAW Local 2036 was certified in 1979 by the Supreme court and won a first contract with Firestone after a 4 1/2 month strike across Christmas in 1979. 21 years to the day, after signing that first contract the Local was again forced to strike in order to save their Union rights only this time the company was owned by Phelps Dodge, the Copper conglomerate and most anti-union company in the country.

Soon -to-be "President appointed" Ron Gettelfinger told me to take the Members on strike. "The Members have spoken" he said at the time. After a month into the strike and getting no further the Members again voted down a company proposal and voted to return unconditionally. All the while we were following the instructions of the International UAW. In every step over the next 17 months the International directed every aspect of the Strike/lockout even standing in Louisville beside Terry Thurman (newly appointed) Regional 3 Director as he told the nearly 500 Executive Officers of Locals from all over Region 3, "We will be on the picket line one day longer" in support of Local 2036. But one month later he was cutting all benefits off for Local 2036, telling me on the phone, "It's time for you to get on with your lives, we can't win that situation".

The membership thought differently. They chose instead to continue the dispute and remain on the picket line and fight back. We immediately started going member to member trying to gather support, something the International should have done in March 1998.

This made (UAW President Steve) Yokich mad I suppose, so in April they summoned the Local 2036 Officers to Detroit to explain why the Local had not "presented a company proposal to the membership for ratification?" But the International was directing every phase of negotiations, and in November of 1998 directed the Membership to not vote on another proposal until the "company changed it", which is exactly what the members did. So in August 1999, the International then said "because we have not voted on a contract it is a lost cause".

In the show cause hearing when questioned about why the IEB had pulled the benefits from Local 2036, Yokich replied, "You're not the first Local that we have pulled the benefits from, far from the first and you won't be the last!"

So I ask you "Are you going to be the next one?"

After a hard fought battle of members all over the country the IEB suddenly decided to restore benefits, and lo and behold they even doubled them for a period, in October 2000.

Then in October 2001, they reduced them and a month later told the officers again, "Get on with your lives, it's a lost cause. On Jan 15 2002, we are going to stop all benefits, strike pay and health care and if you don't ratify that contract (and without a doubt it is the worst one we have ever seen) then the IEB is going to pull your charter."

So the question is:

Why didn't Local 2036 receive the support of the UAW?
Why didn't the International let rank and file members know of the plight of Local 2036?
WHY has the International gone so far out of it's way to not let other Local's assist Local 2036 and even threaten members who defy them and try to help?
Shouldn't you be made aware that you might be handling scab produced parts? Or are you in danger of being NEXT?
If you believe in Solidarity and don't want to be next, then it is time you started to do something about it!

Ask: Am I next?

Join together with other Unionists and be a part of taking our Union back and throwing out the Company leadership that has taken over even into the lowest levels of this union.

Email Billy:

What can you do?

Help us demand that the UAW:
  • Continue Strike Benefits for UAW Local 2036, Making Solidarity the Top Priority
  • Confront Anti Worker Corporations like Accuride and Stand Up for Workers' Rights Everywhere and Always
  • Respect the Dignity and Autonomy of Local Unions
  • Direct a National Campaign to Inform Americans that Truckers are Driving on Wheels Made by Replacement Workers (Remember what has occurred with tires made by replacement workers at Firestone!)
  • Call Local 2036 and tell them you support them:270-826-8237 or Billy Robinson at home: 270-835-3111.
  • Join The Sufferance email list and talk UNION with autoworkers across the country. Just send an email to:
  • Talk to coworkers about this strike.
  • Take the side of our Brothers and Sisters who fight for us all at Accuride
  • Sign the Solidarity Pledge and send a copy with a donation to keep this fight going to:
    Henderson Workers Solidarity Fund,
    c/o Billy Robinson
    PO Box 248
    Sebree, KY 42455
The Solidarity Pledge

"We are at a crossroads.
"Today big business exerts enormous pressure on us to compete against each other in a dog eat dog contest that will only result in wrecking our contracts, cutting our jobs and closing our plants. In the absence of widespread Union friendship and unity, we are pressured to abandon OURSELVES in order to compete with one another in a dog eat dog race to the bottom.
"I reject this selfish, dog eat dog path.
"I believe in the Union values of Solidarity, Democracy and Equality.
"I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Union Brothers and Sisters everywhere. I believe that if every autoworker supports every other autoworker, we can build a Solidarity Movement to protect everyone and win the fight for all of our jobs.
"I pledge to support my coworkers every day on the job and talk union solidarity. That is something all of us can easily do. I will do whatever I can to extend Solidarity throughout my plant and between our plants to help win every strike and keep every plant open. If plants should close or shifts be cut, I will demand that all of us return to work when business picks up again. To this end I will support the UAW's original demand to shorten our work week to 32 hours of work for 40 hours of pay.
"I pledge myself to back principled, democratic action of workers to revive and extend Solidarity across the workplaces of our country: union and nonunion, in steel and auto, on the farm and in the office, in our schools and hospitals, in every place we work.
"I pledge myself to Solidarity in the memory of all the victims and heroes of labor struggles who came before me and for a fair future for my kids and grandkids."

Name Local Union
Please help!
Rather than abandoning the members of Local 2036 as the international union leaders say they are going to do Jan. 15 with $986 million in the UAW Strike Fund, members of the Solidarity Committee at Ford in St. Paul feel that all UAW members should stand in Solidarity with the Accuride strikers and help them to win this fight! To us, "Solidarity Forever" should mean just that - forever - not 47 months and you're on your own.
- Solidarity Committee, UAW Local 879, St. Paul.
Contact us: or call: 715-962-4365
Ford Plant Union Office: 651-696-0510 ext. 5
Support UAW Local 2036
Win the Accuride Strike!

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copyright 2001 © LaborNet
Ford Plant Union Office: 651-696-0510 ext. 5
Support UAW Local 2036
Win the Accuride Strike!
this website is optimized for version 4+ browsers

contact LaborNet

copyright 2001 © LaborNet