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Coalition rallies to save auto jobs

Coalition rallies to save auto jobs

SPRING HILL — The Save America Coalition made a stop in Spring Hill Thursday as part its “Keep It Made in America” bus tour campaign.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership of several leading U.S. auto manufacturers, and the United Steelworkers joined the United Auto Workers to raise public awareness of the economic importance of the American auto industry and its suppliers.

More than 300 people filled the Local 1853 UAW Hall to rally in support of American jobs and the future of the GM/Spring Hill manufacturing plant. The Spring Hill rally was the second-to-last stop of the campaign to draw attention to the fate of millions of jobs supported by the U.S. auto industry and its supply chain. The bus tour made 36 tour stops in 11 states over four days.

Drawing one of the biggest crowd responses of the day was UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who had harsh words for Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

“Months ago Sen. Corker had little to say in support of this plant when he could have,” Casteel said. “If this plant goes down it lands at the feet of Sen Corker. Bob Corker has been after the union-represented workforce and working people. We should remember that next time it’s time to send somebody to represent us Washington.”

Casteel also commented on former President George Bush’s performance with regard to the manufacturing industry.

“It’s eight years of Bush policies that sent our jobs out of the country. We need to restructure things so the jobs we need stay on this soil instead of being sent to foreign soil,” he said.

Organizers said they arranged the bus tour to bring together business, labor, and community leaders to rally with them in support for policies to revitalize the auto sector and U.S. manufacturing.

“More than 7 million jobs are tied to the fate of the auto industry beyond the direct employment and economic impact of auto production and assembly,” said Lou Delatone, field coordinator for the tour. “This is an effort to bring the facts before the people who will be affected if plants like this one in Spring Hill are shut down.”

UAW members and General Motors retirees were joined by representatives of local auto suppliers, car dealers, management and labor officials and civic representatives to call for an auto industry restructuring plan that maximizes domestic production, automobile industry jobs and retains American automobile production capacity.

“This is something we should have done 20 years ago,” said Earl Hensel, a retired GM worker who was one of the original 99 employees to open the Saturn plant in Spring Hill.

Hensel worked for GM for 40 years, moving to Spring Hill from Ohio where he was the superintendent of manufacturing for the Parma, Ohio, GM plant. Hensel was part of the team that helped develop Saturn’s original “people system” — the contract agreement between the Saturn workforce and company management. He said he was in favor of what might be the next step in the labor-management relationship.

“I think it’s a good idea for the union to have some ownership in the company,” he said of the proposal recently presented as part of GM’s restructuring plan. “We’re making a super product, and we have to work together.”



Story created May 15, 2009 – 14:38:07 EDT.

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