Locked-out Ohio aerospace strikers win broad solidarity

By Jacquie Henderson
March 14, 2022

TROY, Ohio — “UAW Locked out!” declared signs carried by dozens of workers, members of the United Auto Workers Local 128, at two plant gates outside Collins Aerospace here Feb. 26. Passing drivers honked in support.

Ellen Brickley, Jacquie Henderson and Maggie Trowe, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union and United Food and Commercial Workers union drove up from Cincinnati to join the pickets in solidarity. We brought buckets of hot chicken and greetings from our co-workers.

When we met striker Deon Harris, a wheel and brake inspector, we told him we were also bringing support from the Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate, Samir Hazboun. “He learned that you’re locked out and urged us to take his message of support to your picket line,” Trowe explained. Harris told her that he appreciated the support.

Harris said he and others on the picket line were angry that the company refused to continue talks after its “last, best and final offer” was voted down. “The company wanted to force our hand, to get us to take whatever they were giving,” he said.

Collins Aerospace is a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies. It builds aviation and aerospace products for commercial and military sectors.

Vivian Curry, a former worker in the plant, has been joining the picketing since the workers were locked out. “These guys need all the support they can get,” she said. “I think it’s great that you came from Cincinnati! A lot of us from here have been joining them. I’ll be here until they get the contract they need.”

After we had joined the picket line in front of the plant for a while, Harris took us to the union hall to meet the local president and other workers.

Joe Konicki, Local 128’s president, said union members had “discussed their offer to cut pensions for new hires, change our health insurance plan and push back on other benefits. And then 84% of the membership voted it down.” Expecting talks to continue, the workers returned to work to find they had been locked out.

Konicki said the workers were getting a lot of support, joking that they’re “overfed on the picket line.”

“They escorted us out,” said Ryan Shook. “We were told that we would be ‘trespassed’ off the property if we tried to go into work. Since then we have been picketing at the gates day and night.

“As a farmer at the same time as I work as a machinist, I can’t afford to give into the company takebacks,” he said. “I love farming, but you don’t make a living that way these days.”

On the picket line some workers also expressed concern about the war in the Ukraine. “I think it’s terrible that those people are getting killed,” Curry said.

Henderson said this is a discussion workers need to have. “The Socialist Workers Party demands that Moscow pull its troops out of Ukraine immediately.

“We also demand that Washington keep its military might out of the region. The U.S. capitalist rulers have the same lack of concern for Ukrainian people’s independence that the Collins bosses are showing for workers’ interests here.”

UAW Regional Director Wayne Blanchard called on Collins’ bosses to let the workers return to work and to continue negotiations.

Support the locked-out members of UAW Local 128! Join their picket lines. Send messages of support to: https://region2b.UAW.org/UAW-local-128, or to UAW Local 128, 1230 S. Market St., P.O. Box 266, Troy, OH 45373.