Stellantis workers strike at Kokomo casting plant over health and safety concerns

Workers at the Stellantis casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana, went on strike Saturday morning over contract issues. According to a brief announcement posted on the main United Auto Workers website, UAW Local 1166 is asking “management to repair, replace and maintain HVAC systems (which the company has promised to do years ago), address other health and safety issues, provide clean uniforms as it does for workers in other factories, and set some work rules.

Kokomo casting plant workers (Source: FCA Media)

The 1,000 hourly workers at the Kokomo Casting Plant (KCP) produce parts for transmissions and other critical components for Stellantis vehicles. A prolonged strike at the factory, according to Stellantis, the “world’s largest die-casting plant”, would impact Stellantis operations in the United States and around the world within days.

The UAW, however, has no intention of waging such a fight and plans to end the strike as soon as possible. The walkout is being carefully organized by the international and local UAW to dispel growing anger over intolerable working conditions at Kokomo and other factories.

Widely despised by workers, the UAW International points to the strike as proof of its willingness to defend workers. “UAW members have made profits at Stellantis, but the company is indifferent to the working conditions that members of Local 1166 must endure.” Local 1166 is also the local of Shawn Fain, a longtime UAW international representative who is billed as the official “opposition” to UAW President Ray Curry.

In fact, Curry and Fain are just as indifferent to the conditions of rank-and-file autoworkers, having negotiated years of dealership contracts, which abolished the eight-hour day, halved wages for new hires and sanctioned the Horrible Exploitation of Temporary Workers. workers.

By calling the strike this weekend, when no production was scheduled, the UAW ensured that there would be no immediate impact on Stellantis operations. At the same time, the UAW told other Stellantis workers in the Kokomo area do not support Kokomo Casting workers by joining their picket lines. Union officials at the much larger UAW Local 685 say their nearly 7,000 members couldn’t join the picket line because they work for the same company!

UAW officials also called on Kokomo Casting workers not to interfere with the operation of the plant in any way, including blocking the entry of contractors.