‘We can’t go backwards’ Local UAW members react to labor battle

Members of United Auto Workers Local 14 gathered this afternoon as UAW retirees joined them for their annual picnic.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Members of United Auto Workers Local 14 gathered this afternoon as UAW retirees joined them for their annual picnic.

“I’m nervous but I have a feeling that you know if cooler heads prevail, we can come to a fair and equitable deal here in the final hours,” said UAW Local 14 member Robert Bosco about the looming 11:59 p.m. strike deadline with the Big Three, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis North America.

Bosco was volunteering his time at the picnic, serving up hot dogs. Bosco has been a UAW Local 14 member for 23 years, currently working at the Toledo Propulsion Systems Plant.

“Squirreling away what I can, as far as savings and that, getting ready for the next contract, you just never know, it could be signed in one day, we could be out, you just, it’s not something we can predict, you just have to be prepared for it,” said Bosco.

Bosco says all the UAW members are united to strike if called upon.

“We’re ready to hunker down for the worst but we’re also looking forward to what could possibly be a record-breaking contract for us and something that we deserve after all these years of concessions,” said Bosco.

Retired UAW member Jim Hawkins worked for 30 years in the power train plant just across the street.

“We can’t go backwards, if you go backwards, you’re losing, so sometimes you gotta go on strike, and I’ve walked the picket line quite a few times,” said Hawkins.

Phil Reiter, with UAW Local 12, has been a member for 10 years at the Jeep Plant, he said he is feeling anxious about the looming deadline.

“Obviously at midnight tonight we could be going on strike, President Fain said last night they’re going to strike select plants if there isn’t a deal and from everything, I’m hearing they’re still far off on some key issues, so,” said Reiter.

Reiter said his list of concerns is long, starting with inequality.

“They talk about the tiers, there’s so many different levels of income, starting with legacy workers, and then I’m considered in progression, I’ve been there for almost 10 years. And though I make the same wage as a legacy, I don’t have a pension, I don’t have health care when I retire, If I retire before 65. For a younger worker hired now you know it’s basically 45 before they can retire,” Reiter said.

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