United Auto Workers at Hudson, Plymouth plants begin striking Friday

United Auto Workers at Hudson, Plymouth plants begin striking Friday

United Auto Workers at Hudson, Plymouth plants begin striking Friday

The strike involving auto workers across the country is now going to affect workers in Hudson, Wisconsin.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned from leaders of Local 722 that union workers at the General Motors facility in Hudson, Wisconsin, will begin striking at 11 a.m. There are 81 UAW workers at the Hudson location, according to union officials.

Meanwhile, workers at Menominee, Wisconsin’s Ford plant will not be striking, according to union leaders.

Steve Frisque, President of UAW Local 722 in Hudson, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS his members “want to be in there working.”

“But there comes a time when you need to draw a line in the sand,” Frisque stated. “Hopefully, they will listen to us, and hopefully, we’ll get this done and get back to work.”

Tom Leonard, the co-owner of Fury Auto Group and chair of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association, said the strike is “unlike we’ve seen in the past.”

“I feel it’s a strike for existence for the autoworkers and the manufacturer,” Leonard said. Regarding parts distribution, which was targeted by today’s expanded strike, Leonard noted he’s seeing its impact on dealer’s repair shops that run on factory-made parts.

“The parts shortage will dry up the pipe line that will go onto vehicles,” Leonard said. “The pain will start now. It will get really bad, [and] in a month from now, if it’s not settled, there will be lag time after that … my hope is we don’t get to that point.”

Additionally, the Stellantis location in Plymouth is also joining the strike. UAW Local 125 says the Plymouth facility has 70 workers.

Alex Tivis, a second-generation UAW worker at the Stellantis site in Plymouth, understands the impact being in a union can have.

“I know what kind of life a union can provide for a family,” Tivis said. “I think that that would be a disservice to this country if we lost that.”

Tivis says that Friday was filled with nerves and uncertainty, but he still plans to stand firm alongside fellow union members.

“I think the toughest part about this situation is that, you know, we’re not really aware of how long it could go on for,” Tivis said.

As the auto worker strike expands to Minnesota and Wisconsin, so do concerns about a slowdown of the distribution of auto parts — just as many were recovered from the slowdowns of the pandemic.

“It’s nice to kind of finally see those parts coming back around,” Luke Boje, a shop manager at Brausen Family Repair Center, said, adding: “My least favorite word, and what we heard a lot during the pandemic, was ‘national backorder.’”

While Boje said the shop just started rolling well, he understands the need to strike. He’s just hoping a deal is done quickly and fairly.

“Hope that everything can be handled on a short-term matter, and it doesn’t drag out forever and ever. But all we can do is wait and see,” Boje added.

During a news conference Friday, United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders announced it expanded its strikes against automakers to 38 locations in 20 different states.

RELATED: Targeted strikes may spread to other states and cities as midday deadline set by auto workers nears

GM issued the following statement Friday in response to the expanded strike:

“Today’s strike escalation by the UAW’s top leadership is unnecessary. The decision to strike an additional 18 of our facilities, affecting more than 3,000 team members plus their families and communities, adds validity to the blueprint identified in last night’s leaked texts — that the UAW leadership is manipulating the bargaining process for their own personal agendas.

We have contingency plans for various scenarios and are prepared to do what is best for our business, our customers, and our dealers.

We have now presented five separate economic proposals that are historic, addressing areas that our team members have said matters most: wage increases and job security while allowing GM to succeed and thrive into the future. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

General Motors

As previously reported, the UAW is striking simultaneously at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler owner Stellantis for the first time in its history in an effort to raise wages. The union is pointing to the companies’ huge recent profits as it seeks wage increases of 36% over four years. The companies have offered a little over half that amount. The UAW has other demands, including a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay and a restoration of traditional pension plans for newer workers.

The companies say they can’t afford to meet the union’s demands because they need to invest profits in a costly transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.

When the strike first began, it was limited to three assembly plants: a GM factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, near Detroit, and a Jeep plant run by Stellantis in Toledo, Ohio. The initial strike involved about 13,000 of the union’s 146,000 members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click the media player below to watch Eric Chaloux’s coverage of GM workers striking in Hudson, Wisc.

Unionized GM workers at Hudson plant to begin striking Friday

Unionized GM workers at Hudson plant to begin striking Friday