BY ABBY TILSNER AND ELLIE GARCÍA
DAYTON, Ohio - Supporters of the Militant who are auto workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Tarrytown, New York, and are laid off traveled here March 19 to meet and solidarize with fellow United Auto Workers members on strike against GM.
Besides Tarrytown, auto workers locked out by GM from other plants have come to walk the picket lines and offer their support. Auto workers from GM and some Ford plants have come from Ypsilanti, Milan, and Flint, Michigan; Kokomo, Indiana; Shreveport, Louisiana; and a busload came from Parma, Ohio. The workers from Flint recently won a strike against outsourcing by GM.
The walkout has also attracted students from Antioch College, who spent a whole day on the picket line and filmed a documentary.
The strikers are staffing the picket lines 24 hours a day, doing four-hour shifts, at least once a week. All the UAW members we spoke to were confident in their fight against the auto giant.
Joe Hartky, while walking the picket line, pointed out that in the last five years the UAW has struck three times. "It's always the same thing, they agree to keep jobs here, they go for one and a half years, and then they outsource."
Hartky said the union has been able to keep GM from sending parts to be made in other plants, often nonunion. "I think we're doing the right thing by going out again," he stated. "What these companies want to do is just the tip of the iceberg."
Jerry Anspach has worked as a machine operator at the North plant here for 24 years. "Now we're only at about 90 percent of the union members who are walking the picket line," he said while on picket duty. "We need to put them all on the line." He was referring to the UAW decision on the second day of the strike to ask 300 of its members to return on the job to resume production of brake components for Chrysler and Mitsubishi.
"Our forefathers fought for the unions and we can't let that go down the drain," Anspach said. "What we need are more unionized shops."
Some workers thought it was necessary to produce brakes for GM competitors so that those companies would not go elsewhere to fill their orders. "That's 300 jobs we are saving," said one worker.
Others disagreed. "If you're gonna strike, strike! If you're gonna work, work," said Anspach.
Several UAW members said they had been called by GM to work but said they would never cross the picket line.
Chuck Mangrum was working at the union hall as sergeant at arms when we interviewed him. He has worked for 25 years here at GM and is now a union committeeman on second shift. On top of the outsourcing, he said, "There are 750 health and safety grievances built up over the past two years, 450 normal grievances, and 14 discharged members. But the main issue is jobs. I think everyone will hang tough. We'll win and we don't care how long it will take."
Many strikers were pleased with the support they have received. "People have backed us 100 percent and great people have come from other plants," said striker George Jones. "I will stay out a year to win if we continue to have that kind of support."
Margrethe Siem contributed to this article. Tilsner, García, and Siem are members of UAW Local 664 at GM's Tarrytown, New York, plant.
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