Members of International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 2159 went on strike here January 31. This is the third rally of its kind since. Negotiations with the company broke down after the union called for a 1 percent pay increase and management came back with a proposal for 0.5 percent, or about eight cents. Workers at the factory average $16 an hour.
To add insult to injury, the company demanded increased worker contributions to medical insurance costs, an end to calculating overtime on a daily basis after eight hours, and a lengthening of the time on the job required to take a vacation.
They want our deductible to go up to $500 and our prescription payments to go up as well, striking worker Ed Baker told the Militant. Their proposal on overtime will amount to a wage cut for many people. A lot of us feel theyre trying to go to a 12-hour day, like a lot of other companies.
Management hired replacement workers in early February, Baker explained. No union member has crossed the picket line. According to Baker and other unionists, production is down in the plant. So are safety conditions. Just hours before the rally, an ambulance arrived at the plant to take an injured worker away.
Since the company announced it was hiring permanent replacements, the Ohio Office of Unemployment Compensation ruled that the strikers are actually locked out. Thus they are eligible to receive unemployment compensation, a welcome addition to the $150 strikers receive weekly from the IAM. Unionists throughout the area are raising funds to support the Tsubaki strikers.
Among those joining Local 2159 members in the spirited march and rally were United Auto Workers members from local auto parts factories, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers members, unionists from other IAM locals, and members of the Laborers union.
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