DETROIT — Lordstown might be more than 200 miles away from the Motor City, but the village is being heard today ahead of the UAW National General Motors Council meeting.
The meeting was expected to get underway at 10:30 a.m.
Clad in red, former GM Lordstown Assembly Plant workers have lined the entrance to the meeting, chanting “No product, no vote,” to all who pass.
Earlier this morning, UAW Local 1112 President Tim O’Hara told Mahoning Matters he is prepared to vote no on a contract that does not include a product for Lordstown.
“I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, and I couldn’t look my members in the mirror ever again by supporting it,” O’Hara told Mahoning Matters this morning in Detroit.
Sources report that the tentative contract that will be the subject of this morning’s meeting does not include a product for Lordstown.
Anthony Naples, who worked at Lordstown for nearly 25 years, will have to accept a transfer if the plant does not receive a product.
His voice broke when he explained that he recently adopted a 14-year-old son.
If the contract does not include a product for Lordstown, O’Hara plans to speak before the vote is taken.
“This year it’s about Lordstown; the next contract it could be about one of the other plants. They’re going to keep building plants in Mexico, in China, in Europe, wherever. Today it’s us, tomorrow it could be somebody else,” said O’Hara.
“Everybody else outside of Lordstown could be looking at the big picture,” ’Hara noted.
Many Lordstown supporters make up the local contingent in Detroit.
Janelle Clay drove more than nine hours from Wentzville, MO to join her son in advocating for the contract’s inclusion of a product for Lordstown.
The protest in Detroit was the first time friends Steven Bridgens and Kevin Andrella had seen each other in a while.
Andrella transferred to the Flint plant, and Bridgens now lives in Bowling Green, KY.
“I brought [my family] two weeks ago. For five months, I was traveling back and forth on weekends,” said Andrella. He has two children, a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old.
When asked why representing Lordstown in Detroit was important to him, Andrella said: “They’re making billions of dollars a year for the last nine years and now they’re unallocating four plants. Four plants closing? That’s unconscionable.”
Their commitment doesn’t come as a surprise. Lordstown employees and alums have showed their dedication throughout the duration of the strike by returning to the nearly empty plant to picket.
“It’s for us. It’s for the Valley. It’s for everybody. It’s not just us it’s affected. It’s everything,” said Bridgens.
The UAW’s top contract priorities in these negotiations include health care, wages, job security and securing a path for temporary workers to acquire permanent status. The contract deadline passed Sept. 14 starting the longest strike in nearly 50 years, which has included almost 50,000 workers and resulted in more than $835 million in lost wages.
Watch Mahoning Matters for updates to this breaking story.