UAW President Shawn Fain, Mayor Brandon Johnson join striking auto workers at Chicago rally

ByTre Ward and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, October 8, 2023
UAW president, Mayor Johnson join Chicago auto workers at rally
UAW President Shawn Fain joined Mayor Brandon Johnson and striking auto workers at a Chicago Ford plant rally Saturday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was a sea of red on Saturday as hundreds of union workers came out to continue their fight.

They held a rally before marching down to the Ford assembly plant, where they were joined by the UAW president on the picket line.

Hundreds of United Auto Workers are preparing to enter week four of their ongoing strike against the big three automakers: General Motors, Stellantis and Ford. That includes union workers across the Chicago area, including in Bolingbrook, Naperville and at the Ford plant on Chicago's Southeast Side.

Many joined the nationwide fight in 21 states, so far, for the return of pensions, the end of pay tiers and cost of living increases.

"The corporate people, they're making all the big money, but they don't want to give us any. Why? Why not? They're working on our backs," said Xina Phillips, who has been a UAW member at Chicago's Ford plant for 28 years.

The union's president, Shawn Fain, received a warm welcome from his fellow strikers during Saturday's rally at UAW Local 551.

RELATED | Ford lays off hundreds of workers at Chicago Heights stamping plant amid UAW strike

"The CEOs and the cronies forget about one thing. We've got the power!" Fain said. "It's the membership. You come first! That's what this fight's all about."

All three major auto makers, so far, have offered a 20% pay increase, which is about half of what the union is demanding.

"They're going to follow suit one way or the other. We can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way, like we are right now," Fain said.

Local leaders, like the president of the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Brandon Johnson, joined the auto workers' resounding cries.

"Today, we send a very clear message to the rest of the world, that the power of the workers will be heard and felt one way or the other," Johnson said.

The rally came one day after Fain announced a breakthrough in the ongoing bargaining with GM.

"They said they couldn't negotiate for electric vehicle batter plants, and won a future for tens and thousands of workers!" Fain said.

The automaker has now agreed to place electric vehicle battery plants under the union's national contract.

"We're not against a green economy, but it's got to be a just transition that works for the working class," Fain said.

Because of the progress with GM, Fain said he will not expand the strike at this time.

"It was a huge move, yesterday, and now we have to lock it down with the other two companies," Fain said.

But, the workers already on the picket line plan to stay here until, they say, they get what they deserve.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met with striking workers Friday at the Chicago Ford assembly plant.