Workers at the Ventra Auto Parts Plant in Evart aren’t happy with recent contract negotiations and say they may go on strike if they’re not offered another contract.
Ventra makes plastic moldings and other components for the Big Three car companies and Tesla. The workers contract is set to expire Friday. They held a rally calling for a new contract on Wednesday.
“I just want to support my husband. He supports our whole family, we have seven kids. So, I just want to come out and support him,” Elizabeth Kuhn, the wife of a worker at the plant says.
Ventra workers and their families gathered this afternoon to call for a new contract. They say the one proposed to them was a slap in the face. Workers say all they want is a living wage.
On Monday, workers overwhelmingly rejected the proposed contract citing inadequate pay due to rising inflation. One of the workers at the plant speaking anonymously says they are talking about holding a strike vote as their current contract ends Friday, July 1.
“We have to be working under a contract and as long as both parties are willing to meet at the table we will continue to work. It’s when, say one party says we’re going to stop, that’s when a strike or a lockout could happen,” the worker says.
They say the are planning on holding a strike vote in the coming weeks.
During a UAW meeting last week, a grainy video shows a worker criticizing the proposed contract having the microphone turned off by union officials.
“Obviously the biggest issue would be a livable wage, but another is we’re a union and our management is following the contract the way they are supposed to. But they are able to walk over us in a way they should not be able to,” they admit.
In the new contract workers would have higher health insurance costs by nearly 200% and wages would have gradually increased just $2.50 over the next five years. According to workers at the plant, the lowest paid employee lost a little over 10% of their wages this past contract due to the rising prices. Now they say they want to get it right.
“And that $2.50 we were offered over the next five years. It just covers for the inflation that we missed out on in the last five years. Which means we’re going to continue to lose money,” they explain.
So, workers are calling for the new contract to include a $10 an hour pay increase in addition to cost-of-living raises to make up for inflation. They are also calling for no forced overtime, better benefits and more.
“It’s sad to see that they can remove jobs out from under us, and then shove those responsibilities onto the ones who are still there, and we don’t get more pay out of it,” they say.
We reached out to the UAW and Ventra for a comment, but have yet to hear back.
“It is about making the community better, but also making our workplace better for the next people who are going to come into it,” the worker says.