KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas City-area autoworkers are showing their support for the thousands of United Auto Workers union members on strike across the country.
As negotiations between UAW leaders and automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis continue, the UAW Local 31 is rallying around the fight for better pay and job security.
“It’s really kind of heartbreaking to be honest,” Local 31 President Dontay Wilson said Wednesday.
Three plants and 38 parts distribution centers across the country have already gone on strike. But the ongoing strike has also caused a ripple effect, causing other facilities like the GM Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, to go idle.
“We talk about the billionaire class raking in billions and billions of dollars in profits, and here we are just as a workforce just trying to get our fair share of that,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the negotiations for better pay and working conditions symbolize dignity for workers.
“You’re a walking, driving, marketing firm for those companies, and then when it comes time for your reciprocity, when it comes time for you to kind of get your fair shake during the labor contract, it’s like none of that ever existed,” Wilson said.
The local union president said Wednesday’s “Red Shirt Rally” is their show of support for those striking.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas was in attendance, showing his support for the working class.
“We are going to stand for every worker — not just in Kansas City, not just in the Midwest, but in all of America — to get what they are owed,” Lucas said.
“And what you are owed is justice, what you are owed is fair pay, what you are owed are benefits, what you are owed is healthcare, and what you are owed is just a little bit of what the CEO gets.”
The strikes have already made a major impact on the U.S. economy, resulting in more than $1 billion in loses so far.
So far the union has let the companies keep making pickup trucks and large SUVs, their top-selling and most profitable vehicles.
It has shut down assembly plants in Missouri, Ohio and Michigan that make midsize pickup trucks, commercial vans and midsize SUVs, all of which are profitable but don’t make as much money as the larger vehicles.
But UAW President Shawn Fain said the union will announce Friday how it plans to expand the strike once again unless there is serious progress in contract talks.
The union wouldn’t say what action it would take on Friday, reiterating that all options are on the table.
Fain said Tuesday that negotiations were moving slowly and the union would add facilities to the strike to turn up the pressure on GM, Ford and Stellantis.
Back in Kansas City, Kansas, hundreds of workers are out of a job at the Fairfax plant, so the UAW Local 31 is accepting donations for its food pantry. All of the supplies will go to workers and their families who don’t know when they’ll be able to get back to work.