Workers at Freightliner almost lost everything
Thousands of good-paying jobs building trucks in North Carolina were headed to Mexico - until their union contract put stop to it. In this video, Ricky McDowell, President of UAW Local 5285 in Mt. Holly, explains that the union was key to keeping Freightliner workers in North Carolina from losing everything to the company's plans for outsourcing.
The union in Mt. Holly organized a corporate campaign along with the Freightliner plants in Gastonia and Cleveland. They leafleted truck stops and called local companies to urge them to demand their trucks be built in North Carolina:
"At one point we found out that Duke Energy was buying Freightliner trucks built in Mexico. I called a Duke Energy representative. I told him he had 4,900 of his customers that's laid off and don't have a job and would love to build his trucks. I asked him two questions: how many people in Mexico pay a light bill to you guys?, and second, why would you have a problem with your customers building your trucks? He called me back the next day and said Mt. Holly will be building our trucks from now on."
Workers had a union contract that didn't allow the company to move production. In January, an arbitrator said the company was violating the contract by laying off workers and moving production to Mexico. He ordered the company to reinstate production in the Carolinas and pay back wages to employees.
"We were blessed to have a UAW contract to protect our jobs and didn't allow the company to just pack up and leave without paying the price," McDowell says.
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