UAW Locked out

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

No contract agreement means no work for UAW workers at Rockford's Gunite plant. About 150 employees are locked out without pay and no clue when this management scuffle will end.

"It's sort of ridiculous. We were making moves in the right direction that is why we chose to come to work instead of a strike and the company chose to lock us out," says UAW Local 718 President Rick Kardell.

"It was a method to protect our operations and our customers interests and with the hope that would assist in reaching a new agreement," says Gunite Spokesperson Eva Schmitz.

Until there's a deal, UAW workers will picket round the clock. As about 60 salaried employees and non-union temp workers fill-in.

"It's just a dirty game. They come in and break the union so it'd be open shop so they can walk up to you anytime and say you're done," says UAW member Dalkeith Jackson.

UAW leaders don't like the contract offered because it requires overtime work without notification and allows management to change policy, such as attendance and drug testing, whenever they want. Plus there's a two-tiered wage system that pays newer workers substantially less than those hired prior to 2005.

"You're standing next to a guy doing the same job making eight dollars less an hour it's pretty disgusting what this company has been doing to people," says UAW member Jeff Wubben.

There's no word when contract negotiations will continue. But union workers hope it's soon, since pay on the picket line is minimal compared to what they'd earn on the job.

Gunite makes brake drums and rotors for semi-trucks. The company loses about five-hundred dollars a minute production is down. No word when temp workers will arrive to allow operations to resume.


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