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Steinway's strike in Elkhart, Indiana. UAW Local 364

OUR STRIKE BEGAN the day the music died on April 01, 2007. When 230 union members went out on strike when we turned down a proposal that very few of us could agree to. Steinway who is our main owner wants to take holiday pay away, mandatory overtime, add more shifts and change days of work to four, increased insurance all the way across the board, along with many language changes.

One of the problems was a buy out for all persons who were over 50 and had worked there for a long time. But the wording was you would train them and if they did not qualify on the job in a certain amount of time then you did not get your buy out.

My husband has worked for this company for 26 years and I have worked there 12 years. Along with all of the others that I had worked with, Conn-Selmer or Steinway has 4700 years sitting out in the dead of winter on strike while they have 5-8 months of experience in the shop. They have slapped us all many times and continue to till this day, bargain in bad faith. This used to be one of the better jobs to have in town. Then we got three owners who love junk bonds so well that one went to prison for all of them. We have turned down 3 other proposals since then. We have serious problems with our union officials having the desire to help. They do not know how to bargain, Both Sides. therefore we have been stuck with insurance deductibles of 12,ooo thousand dollars a year on one of the proposals. The Steinway company does not want to get rid of scabs. 110 replacement workers in the plant, meanwhile only 1 person out of our plant is receiving unemployment. I have been replaced since September 27,2006, and can not get the unemployment. Steinway immediately replaced 56 and then told the union it happened in September 2006.

At our meeting yesterday we asked all union official why they were allowing other union ran buildings of Steinway owners to build parts and instruments for our building? After almost 10 months no one has looked into this matter.

We have asked for a strike committee, regular monthly meetings with no building to meet in, food bank, bucket drop, and any training for another job. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WAS DONE. So through the help of other organizations they taught me what to do to get a food bank started.

Remember I am only a body member, we had a community action program chair that does not do her job along with one of her assistance way before we went out on strike.

Our food bank is FOOD 4 STRIKERS, 58558 Ardmore Drive, Elkhart, IN 46517. I have gone to 4 separate conferences to learn how to reach out and spread the word.

I have caught all kinds of heat. Even my own union brothers and sisters badmouthing me to the Region #3 director for what I have done to help. We had a wonderful Christmas party that took about 6 weeks to put together. Other unions and groups came to help with food and presents. And to tell the body what they needed to do. This occurred on December 16, 2007. I have never seen so many happy faces at Christmas in my life. Each child got three presents.

Then the food has been in an unlocked hallway since not passed out like it should have been well over a month ago. All the food there, 3 truck loads was brought through the food 4 strikers funds but I trusted my union officials not once but twice. No More. Please remember, these are steps a person has to take in the beginning. Follow the line of command which I did. Then the second time I went to the grocery store and spent 368.00 for food and took to a pass out day at the food bank. The girl in charge would still not move that food. By the way her husband is one of the 25 people who crossed our line and went back in as a scab. Meanwhile persons were picking up their check the same day and the union officials would not even tell them the food bank was open. 30 people showed. January 21, 2007, we went to a conference in Chicago, Illinois. Boy, did we meet some really nice and helpful people. They donated funds and we told them everything about our strike. So when I got back into town. I went to a local pizza place and spoke with a manager, and other pizza places and their managers in town. The best deal got my business. So two days later I went to where people were picking up their checks and gave everyone who came in a free pizza coupon. Still persons were asking me what about the unions food bank.

I simply told them where all the food was and they have to get the union officials off their All of the sudden there is a food bank this Tuesday to get rid of the food that was donated through food 4 strikers Christmas party and the other trip to the grocery store I mentioned. We have no building for meeting and no building for the food bank. So I and others on my committee, along with other groups have passed out food to strikers from the back of my truck out at the strike line.

There is always an excuse why the union can not help. The union has 3,000 dollars sitting in a union members hands (committee chair person), along with another 5,000 dollars at Region #3 office. IS THIS CARING ABOUT UNION BROTHERHOOD OR SISTERHOOD. NO. With the pressure I put on them from having a Christmas party, the union finally gave a box of food at Christmas. Brought a present for the children and from what I heard all the children did not get. Again the children had to wait out in the cold of winter to receive their presents. Outside at strike line. But gave food away to strikers in a heated building. We had a union meeting yesterday, and listened to Mo Davison who is Region #3 director out of Indianapolis. He told us the company Steinway is not going to bargain financially AT ALL. Our bargaining committee is suppose to protect us from CORPORATE FRAUD. THE INTERNATIONAL RULES NEED TO BE CHANGED TO CORPORATE GREED INSTEAD OF FRAUD. ALL THE SAME IN MY BOOK.

Also, at the Las Vegas convention last year Strike pay was suppose to be increased to 250.00 from 200.00 a week. This still has not been approved. We are the only strike going on in our region. But one of the longest ongoing strikes in the nation. I know of A Chicago strike for 2 years and Tenneco strike in Michigan that has gone on for three years..

Same international union people.

A lot of companies are watching what happens to us. This is just the beginning of a trickle down effect. Steinway had a show that was a flop. And that flop occurred because of the quality. Steinway could take care of that problem by putting the experienced worker back to work. But no, they continue to bargain in bad faith and do not have to follow any rules. Dana Messina is the owner's name. Where is the American pride?

OVER 3 YEARS AGO, THIS COMPANY GOT RID OF 200 WORKERS, I WAS ONE OF THEM. NOW THEY WANT TO GET RID OF ANYONE OVER 50 YEARS OF AGE. SOME OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE WORKED THERE STRAIGHT OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL. ALSO CHARGE US WAY OUT OF THIS WORLD INSURANCE PRICES. I know insurance everywhere has gone up. Everyone I have done research with has a Maximum out of pocket expense of 4,000 dollars not 12,000 dollars. Who will pocket all that extra cash? Guess who.

We have had strikers die, have open heart surgery, heart attacks on the line, and strikers hit by cars exiting the plant. One man that crossed the line and went back in, tried to kill himself about two weeks ago. Does the union or the company care. NO. Please remember union members and all others, if they can cut the public sector too, will you be next?

Thanks to everyone who has helped us out in any form. Through your help, good happenings have come to the strikers of 364 in Elkhart, Indiana. Like I said before a beautiful Christmas party where people got to eat, and receive gifts, the pizza give away, food bought through Food 4 Strikers food bank, a video made, a couple radio shows that aired happenings of our strike. Our next benefit, put on by Local 174 out of Michigan is on February 17, 2007 at 5:30 p.m. at 29841 Van Born Road, Romulus, MI. The phone number is 734-728-7600.

Come join us and hear about our strike. There will also be a film on a woman from the early 1900's that was an early organizer for the union people. Mother Jones is her name. She reminds me so much of the first Lady I was so privileged to meet. Her name is Pat Meyers of L.A.W.S. Inc. Her and I met by chance only. Neither one of us went looking for each other like the union wants to accuse the both of us for. Then there is Rob Wilson, out of the Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois, he has been a great help. Steve Zeltzer from San Francisco. Mike Griffin from Illinois along with many others. These organizations have helped us with getting boycotts approved, benefits planned, and the word out to the world. The other organizations out of Chicago have helped in many ways.

We desperately need any help any one can give. Through the Food 4 Strikers food bank, or to simply boycott buying any Steinway pianos, Bach horns, Ludwig drums, flutes, clarinets, student horns or any marching brass horns. Until they put the middle class American back to work and the scabs out. Please phone Lou Dobbs and ask him to cover our strike. He does stories on TV about the middle income jobs and how they need to be saved.

Thank you for listening. In Solidarity,

Deneen Seigler, Local 364
Elkhart, Indiana

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