446 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 16 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/10/10

UAW workers cheer president but job woes persist

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Teresa Albano
Become a Fan
  (2 fans)

CHICAGO - "Happy birthday!" shouted ecstatic autoworkers as President Barack Obama took to the podium Aug. 5 at the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant here.

Chicago's favorite son was here to mix birthday celebrations with politics, attending a fundraiser for Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, and touting the comeback of the U.S. auto industry.

But the thrill and excitement of having the popular president at the factory was tempered by continuing high unemployment figures, and worries that people won't be able to buy the new cars produced.

Earlier Obama visited GM and Chrysler plants in Michigan and said if the federal government hadn't intervened to help save the auto industry, another 1 million jobs would have been lost. He criticized "naysayers" who wanted the auto industry to fail.

The president was alluding to the Republicans, who many say were anxious for the auto industry to go under in order to destroy the United Auto Workers union.

Ford did not take federal bailout money, but the president said if Ford's competitors went down it would have had a detrimental impact on Ford too.

The federal government has helped the company in other ways, the president said. Ford received Department of Energy grants and loans to retool and produce vehicles in accordance with the new national fuel efficiency standards. With that help, Ford invested $400 million in the Chicago plant and said it will create 1,200 new union jobs producing a fuel-efficient SUV - the Ford Explorer - and the Ford Police Interceptor, the next generation of police cars. The plant already produces the Taurus and Lincoln MKS.

Ford also said it has a $5.9 billion credit line for the development of fuel efficient vehicles. The new Explorer is said to have an "eco-boost" engine that will get 20 percent more fuel efficiency and 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

President Obama also announced a $250 million loan from the Export-Import Bank to finance the export of Ford vehicles to other countries.

UAW Local 551 represents 1,400 production workers at the plant here, down from about 3,800 workers in 1992.

On Aug. 5, the production floor was full of male and female workers of every size, shape and color excited about the president's visit. Many sported Obama T-shirts, while others wore shirts bearing Ford and UAW logos, or decked themselves out in red, white and blue.

"It was an honor and a great day - some people even said the greatest day of their life - to have the president at our workplace," said Local 551 President Carlo Bishop. "How many other people can say the president visited them at their job?"

Bishop captured the pride, optimism and excitement of these workers.

Mzjenny Guyton with 17 years in the plant who works in quality control said it was a "blessing" to have the president. "I think I can speak for all of us in 551 to say it's an honor and privilege for us. We are excited that jobs are opening up."

Guyton, like many of the other workers, spoke passionately about her job. "Safety and quality are number one and two," she said.

"It's been an uphill fight," said electrician Eugene Golston, who has worked 15 years at the plant. "We're able to do five different vehicles at one time. Before it was two at a time, and it took six months to a year for the change over. Now it's just a matter of months."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Teresa Albano Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Terrie Albano is co-editor of People's World, www.peoplesworld.org.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Chomsky, fascism and the working class

Militia arrests point to return of armed patriot groups

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend