“I know about Will and think he’s the best candidate running”: Toledo Jeep workers welcome rank-and-file campaign for UAW president

The WSWS has endorsed the campaign of Will Lehman for UAW president. For more information, visit WillforUAWPresident.org.

Supporters of United Auto Workers presidential candidate Will Lehman won strong support from Toledo Jeep workers when a campaign team visited the Stellantis factory in northern Ohio Saturday afternoon. Although the UAW apparatus has done everything to keep information about the first-ever vote for the union’s top leadership well concealed, several workers at the factory were familiar with Lehman’s campaign and said they planned to vote for him when ballots go out next month.

Campaigners for Will Lehman speak to workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex [Photo: WSWS]

One worker said, “The UAW International took bribes from the company to sign these rotten contracts, and we’ve never gotten anything back. The UAW officials just do what they are told by the bosses. I’m interested in Will’s campaign if he’s talking about workers having the power.”

“I know about Will and think he’s the best candidate running,” a worker with eight years in the factory said. Referring to the upcoming debate between UAW presidential candidates on September 22, he said, “I know Will supports full employer-paid pensions for everyone. Buy if Curry shows up, I would ask him and the other candidates: ‘Do you support pensions for everyone?’ There are guys in their 40s and 50s who are Tier Two, like my uncle, who aren’t going to get a pension. They did the work and had their bodies jacked up from standing on a cement floor all day, and they deserve a good pension.”

The worker, who spent four years as a so-called temporary part-time (TPT) employee before being converted to a full-time position, said, “When I was rolled over to full-time, my pay went down from $19.50 an hour to $17 an hour. Workers here are also angry about ‘leap-frogging.’ Part-timers who were rolled over in 2019 make $2 less an hour than those who were rolled over after 2020. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should be making the same, but the UAW has us divided against each other.”

Of particular concern for Toledo Jeep workers is the unrestrained exploitation of so-called Supplemental Employees (SEs), who make up one-third of the 6,000 employees at the giant Toledo Assembly Complex.

The UAW and the companies changed the designation of these workers from “temporary part-time employees” to SEs after it became obvious to everyone that they were neither “temporary” nor “part-time.” Instead, tens of thousands of SEs at Stellantis, Ford and GM plants have labored for five or more years before getting a chance to be converted to some substandard tier of full-time work. In the meantime, they are paid substandard wages and benefits and can be terminated virtually without cause. For the privilege of being treated as a pariah, they are forced to pay dues to the UAW.


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