Workers at the Stellantis casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana, struck Saturday morning over contract issues. According to a brief announcement posted on the United Auto Workers main website, UAW Local 1166 is calling for “management to repair, replace and maintain the HVAC systems (something the company promised to do years ago), address other health and safety issues, provide clean uniforms like it does for workers at other plants, and fix some work rules.”

Workers at Kokomo Casting Plant (Source: FCA Media)

The 1,000 hourly workers at the Kokomo Casting Plant (KCP) produce parts for transmissions and other critical components for Stellantis vehicles. A prolonged strike at the plant, according to Stellantis the “largest die cast facility in the world,” would impact Stellantis operations in the US and internationally within days.

The UAW, however, has no intention of conducting such a struggle and plans to end the strike as soon as possible. The walkout is being carefully stage-managed by both the UAW International and local to dissipate mounting anger over intolerable working conditions in Kokomo and other plants.

Widely despised by workers, the UAW International is pointing to the strike as proof of its willingness to stand up for workers. “UAW members have made Stellantis their profits, yet the company is indifferent to the working conditions that Local 1166 members must endure.” Local 1166 is also the home local of Shawn Fain, a longtime UAW International rep who is being presented as the official “opposition” to UAW President Ray Curry.

In fact, Curry and Fain are just as indifferent to the conditions of rank-and-file autoworkers, having negotiated years of concessionary contracts, which abolished the eight-hour day, cut wages for new hires in half and sanctioned the horrific exploitation of temporary workers.

By calling the strike this weekend, when no production was scheduled, the UAW has ensured there will be no immediate impact to Stellantis operations. At the same time, the UAW has told other Kokomo-area Stellantis workers not to support the Kokomo Casting workers by joining their picket lines. Union officials at the much larger UAW Local 685 claim their nearly 7,000 members could not join the picket line because they work for the same company!

UAW officials have also called on Kokomo Casting workers to not hinder in any way the operation of the plant, including by blocking the entrance of contractors.

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