Lear auto parts workers vote to authorize strike: “The first contract proposal was an insult”

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UAW Local 2335 strike authorization results

Workers at the Lear Seating plant in Hammond, Indiana, voted on Monday and Tuesday to authorize a strike against the auto parts manufacturer by an overwhelming 94 percent margin. Workers are determined to win a clear victory at Lear, which saw record sales in the last quarter, and are fighting for major wage increases, cost-of-living raises to protect against inflation, supplemental unemployment benefits, a good retirement, and more.

The strike authorization vote comes after workers decisively rejected a contract proposal by 95 percent on August 6 that was backed by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2335 officials and the UAW International.

The rebellion by workers at Lear against yet another pro-company UAW deal takes place amid a growing mood of militancy throughout the auto industry in advance of next month’s contract expirations at the Detroit Three. UAW contracts with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis covering 150,000 workers in the US expire on September 14, and for another 18,000 workers in Canada on September 18.

The deal pushed by the UAW apparatus generated substantial anger and opposition among workers. “The first contract proposal was an insult,” one worker told the WSWS. “No pension. No profit sharing. No healthcare for when we eventually retire. No COLA. Wages are not keeping up with inflation. Higher premiums.”

The struggle at Lear is being intensely watched by workers at the nearby Ford Chicago Assembly Plant, which Lear Hammond supplies, as well as by workers at other auto plants.

A Ford Chicago worker, wishing to convey his solidarity to Lear workers, told the WSWS, “See you on the picket line. Stay strong, you’re not in this fight alone.”

He added, “Read the entire contract before voting on anything.”

The contract Lear workers rejected on August 6 would have raised the minimum starting pay from $15.50 per hour to just $17 per hour, a poverty wage that is below the rate of many fast-food restaurant chains. The starting rate of $17 an hour would have remained the same through the end of the five-year agreement, meaning that new hires in 2028 would still have received just $17 per hour.

Meanwhile, workers at the current top rate of $24.44 would have received a raise of just $2.56, over the first four years of the contract, an increase of roughly 10 percent and well below the current rate of inflation. Workers at top rate would have received only a lump sum bonus in the final year of the contract.


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