CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 25 — Since Oct. 23, about 4,000 workers, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), have been striking over unfair labor practices against Navistar. Over 500 of those workers, in UAW Locals 6 and 2293, work just outside Chicago building the MaxxPro engines for the blast-resistant trucks used by the U.S. military in Iraq. The MaxxPro chassis is built in Garland, Texas, and the trucks are assembled in West Point, Mississippi. Both plants are non-union.
Navistar is using scabs at the Melrose Park engine plant here, with a wink and a nod from the UAW leadership that boasts, “Our commitment has always been to both the membership and the company because we, the UAW, know we need each other to be successful, but I am not sure the company agrees.” No solidarity rallies have been organized or attempts made to stop the scabs. In fact, the company was able to increase output and meet its October production targets despite the strike, delivering 140 MaxxPro blast-resistant trucks for the Pentagon’s mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle program. Navistar has orders for almost 3,000 MaxxPros, more than any other supplier, and plans to build 500 a month by February.
Navistar, encouraged by the massive concessions just granted to GM, Ford, Chrysler and Delphi, is taking a hard line with the workers and the union leaders. As with the other recent contracts, the union is asking for some “guarantee” of work over the life of the new contract, but Navistar is forming a joint venture with a major auto producer in India and is unwilling to grant guarantees.
PLP will be organizing support for, and attempting to build some ties with, Navistar workers on strike against this war profiteer. One good way to solidify ties would be uniting to physically stop scabs from entering the plant.