The Chicago Ford Committee issued a statement: “Elect Will Lehman President of the UAW!” | Rare Techy
The following application was discussed and unanimously accepted by Ford Chicago’s rank selection committee over the weekend. The committee was recently formed by workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant to promote Will Lehman’s campaign for UAW President.
Lehman, a second-line worker at Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania, has called on workers to form a network of rank-and-file committees to transfer power to the shop floor.
To participate in the work of the Ford Chicago Rank Committee, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (773) 234-7135 for more information. To learn more about Lehman’s campaign, visit WillforUAWPresident.org.
Brothers and sisters,
We have come together to form a Ford Chicago Nominating Committee to elect Will Lehman as President of the UAW. As a second-line autoworker at Mack Truck in Pennsylvania, Will knows what we go through every day. More importantly, he is fighting with us to build a massive rank-and-file movement to bring power back to the shop floor.
We invite all our brothers and sisters at CAP, Chicago Stamping and other UAW plants to mail back their ballots with a vote for Will, which means putting the power directly in the hands of the workers.
Our committee is not only campaigning to elect Will, but through this campaign we are also fighting for our critical needs and demands. We have seen the UAW bureaucracy ignore our daily struggles as they collude with Ford management at both the national and local levels. As workers on the floor, we face life and death safety issues that are ignored and glossed over by company and union officials.
In the past two years of the pandemic alone, we’ve seen workers like 32-year-old Caleb Dye die from COVID and many others who have been infected and become seriously ill. Most recently, we saw the death of 25-year-old Sam Hager, who died in the C-team lineup after suffering an injury and not receiving timely medical attention. Everyone on the line was traumatized as we watched him suffer a seizure and die before our eyes. Safety is not a priority at all for the company or the union apparatus. We don’t even have a proper medical team on the floor.
We are not treated like human beings. Management has yelled at us during fires and tornadoes to keep working and we can’t take bathroom breaks. Management has kept the line running when the lights stopped working. The plant itself is dirty and we have to use unsanitary bathrooms that are barely cleaned. We’ve seen machines knock workers unconscious and bosses create lines and literally step over people to get the line moving so the company can make a profit.
If we have a problem, the union reps go directly to the supervisors and then come back and tell us why we’re being written up.
At the last local meeting of UAW Local 551, union officials wanted to increase their personal expense accounts from $50 to $500 in the union charter! But they never bother to show up on the floor when we need something.
We see brothers and sisters struggling to make ends meet, losing their homes, cutting expenses from meager paychecks, racking up thousands of dollars in debt, and struggling to even get unemployment benefits during layoffs. Most of us can’t even afford apartments in the Chicago metro area, where one-bedroom rents range from $1,200 to $1,500 on average. The cost of living is out of control with inflation at 8.2 percent. Gas, food, rent and other expenses are costing us a fortune today.
Some of us work 60-70 hours a week. Even if we work 40 hour weeks, we can’t pay our bills to take care of ourselves or our families. Many younger workers do not earn enough to buy a home or live on their own. And the wages of the highest earners have been stagnant for more than a decade.
The tier system is a divide and conquer strategy by the corporate and union bureaucracy that has put us workers in a race. New hires often start out as temporary workers who have to wait years before becoming full-time, only to have to wait another six years until they “progress” to top pay.
Ford and other car companies have made tens of billions of dollars while we make poverty wages. Every hour, CAP employees produce cars worth millions of dollars, but the company’s CEO and shareholders get to see the profits of all our work. In 2021, Ford CEO Jim Farley earned $22.8 million in total compensation. Other top executives at Ford earn between $10 million and $18 million a year.
Now the Chicago business press is saying the future of the Chicago assembly plant is uncertain, while Stellantis plans to cut shifts in Michigan and threatens jobs at Belvidere Assembly. Recently, the officials stopped the line to punish us that the management may close the plant by January if the quality and attendance issues are not addressed. Our union officials stood by and said nothing to protect us. We do not accept such threats to our jobs and our lives when we work for the company.
We have had enough, we are fed up and we are going to fight for our interests together as rank-and-file members. And Will Lehman is the only candidate running to speak for all of us because he is one of us!
The other main candidates in the UAW national election, current UAW President Ray Curry and Shawn Fain, are bureaucrats who get their inflated salaries from our dues. Curry, who earns $272,726, had close ties to two previous presidents, Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, who were both sent to prison for corruption, taking bribes from companies and embezzling our fee money. Fain, who says he is “reforming” at the top of the UAW, has been part of the international apparatus for years and earns $156,364. These candidates are completely outside our struggles.
When Curry and Fain brag about their “experience,” it’s that of a rich bureaucrat. On the other hand, Will’s experience is that of a worker on the floor who faces what we face every day.
Will Lehman calls for an end to the corrupt leadership-supporting UAW bureaucracy and a fight for a program based on bringing power to the floor and program to the working class. We need full real-time control of our strike fund, our dues and assets in the UAW, as well as rank-and-file oversight of all negotiations.
Therefore, we support both Will’s demands and our own:
End the levels and bring us all to the same level, equal pay for equal work. Convert all times to full time immediately.
We also need significantly higher wages. Will is calling for a 50 percent raise and the restoration of the COLA, especially after the concession contracts the UAW has forced upon us for decades.
Every eight hours we need triple time for overtime and no more mandatory overtime. The eight-hour work day needs to be restored and the alternative work schedule needs to be abolished. We all work overtime because our wages are so low. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our lives and family time to survive.
On the issue of free time, we need more paid time off that is not dictated by the company schedule. We should be able to take time off whenever we want. If Ford wants to close, they can pay us for it without affecting our vacation time.
Pensions must be restored and fully funded, and quality health care must be guaranteed for all current workers and retirees.
We do not accept layoffs or threats to close CAP or other factories! Employees must also receive full pay for temporary layoffs.
We also need full rank control over line speed and safety issues.
If you agree with what we are fighting for, join our committee! We, the rank and file, are the only ones who can fight for our interests because the UAW bureaucracy will not protect our needs. We must fight for the workers’ agenda, our needs and our lives.
We also invite rank-and-file workers from Tower Automotive, Flex-N-Gate, Dakkota, Lear and other parts factories to join us and form their own rank-and-file committees in their factories. And we extend our solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the country and internationally, including Mexico, Europe and Asia. By uniting locally, nationally and internationally, we can fight for our interests and win!