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UAW Workers Across Indiana Participate In Nationwide Strike

UAW strike

Members of UAW Local 440 picketed outside each of the entrances to GM's Bedford plant Monday. (Seth Tackett, WFIU/WTIU News)

United Automobile Workers workers in Indiana joined the union’s national strike against GM Monday. 

More than 49,000 UAW members at GM plants across the country are picketing because of an ongoing contract dispute.

Kevin Hutchinson is president of UAW Local 440, which represents more than 700 workers at GM’s plant in Bedford. He says they make a variety of components at the plant, including transmissions and engine blocks. 

Hutchinson is a millwright welder and says he's been with the company for 43 years. He says walking off the floor carrying the union flag at midnight was emotional. 

"I believe in this," he says. "My lifestyle has been fantastic, my insurance is fantastic. And it’s not because General Motors wanted it given. They don’t want to give up anything."

Members picketed outside of the Bedford plant Monday, with small groups holding up "UAW on strike" signs in front of each gate. 

Hutchinson says GM made its profits because of its employees, and they want the company to share its wealth. He says the strike is about ensuring jobs stay in and come back to America.

"We want General Motors to make money," Hutchinson says. "We want them to make a lot of money, we just want them to share it with us because they’re riding our backs, because we’re the ones making them that money."

Not all employees at the Bedford plant are part of the strike. Electricians there are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

GM invested $127.4 million in the Bedford plant in 2015.

Dozens of union members also waved signs during their four-hour shift on the picket line at GM's Fort Wayne Assembly plant, the state's largest GM facility. 

Lucy Esparza has worked at the plant for nearly two decades. She says the company's reliance on temporary workers to cut costs is unfair. 

"I mean we have temps in here that have been here two or three years and they're not hired in," Esparza says. "You know, like obviously GM needs these bodies; they need these people working here and I think it's only fair and square that they get hired in."

According to company figures, the plant employs about 4,500 workers. 

UAW workers at facilities in Kokomo and Marion also joined the strike. 

GM says in a statement contract negotiations have resumed and its goal is to build a stronger future for employees.

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