Local G-M Truck Plant Workers Join in Nationwide Strike Against Giant Automaker

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Sep 24, 2007 at 7:16 PM EDT

Workers at Fort Wayne's General Motors Truck Plant have walked off the job, as part of a nationwide strike against the giant automaker.

The focus at the Fort Wayne plant has turned from making trucks to walking picket lines.

Picketers are manning their posts at various entrances to the local plant, with strengthening resolve that the nationwide walk-out is the right thing to do to try and protect themselves and GM retirees.

Within minutes of word that the strike had been ordered by the United Auto Workers top brass, members of local 2209 in Fort Wayne left the plant to a chorus of honking horns.

Rita Todd, with 30 years seniority, immediately grabbed a picket sign.

NEUMEYER: " You hoping this is short term...short term, not long term?"

Rita Todd/Fort Wayne GM Worker: " Yes, short term, I hope, but we'll just see, whatever it is, we're prepared for it."

James Johnston/GM Worker: " I was on a picket line as a kid with my dad before, so this isn't new to me and my family, and yes, we were ready, we saved some money."

GM workers in Fort Wayne have been recognized several times the past 22 years for excellence in producing full size GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups.

But overall, GM is struggling to become cost competitive with non-union automakers like Toyota.

The UAW had extended strike deadlines hour by hour since September 14th, bargaining to protect health benefits for GM retirees and other things important to the union.

Jim Zent/Local 2209 President: " Job security specifically for uh, the U.S. workforce and our UAW members and they weren't able to reach agreement."

Striking workers from 2209 will get 200 dollars a week in strike pay starting on the eighth day.

Truckers en route to the plant to make deliveries were turned away by the strike.

Some of them, who lost money on the trips, aren't sympathetic with the strikers' position.

Jack Remmele/Grand Rapids Trucker: " We took cuts basically, so why can't they, plain and simple.

The picketers will be on duty 24 hours a day until the strike is settled.

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