Indiana autoworkers support Will Lehman and report on UAW treachery

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Auto workers in Indiana on Tuesday expressed their support for United Auto Workers (UAW) presidential candidate Will Lehman. They have reported extensively on their working conditions and experiences with the UAW bureaucracy. A campaign team visited the General Motors metal stamping plant in Marion and the Allison transmission complex in Indianapolis.

The small industrial towns of central Indiana (Muncie, Anderson, Kokomo) played a crucial role in the mass industrial strikes that led to the formation of the UAW in the 1930s. Militant battles took place here for several decades. Inspired by the Flint, Michigan sit-in of 1936-1937, workers occupied General Motors’ Delco Remy and Guide Lamp plants in Anderson, defying both GM’s Black Legion thugs and martial law and the occupation of the United States City by the National Guard.

For the past 40 years, however, the UAW has engaged in a brutal attack on jobs, living standards and working conditions in the region.

At the gate of the GM stamping plant in Marion [Photo: WSWS]

Lehman’s supporters spoke to GM workers at the Marion Stamping Plant, where 758 workers make metal parts for GM vehicles. As recently as 2014, the plant had 1,600 workers.

Once an industrial hub, like other Indiana automotive towns, Marion has been devastated by decades of downsizing and wage cuts. As early as 2017, one in four residents of Marion lived in poverty. Almost half (45 percent) of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 live below the poverty line.

Workers were thrilled to hear about Lehman’s campaign and his call to defend jobs and gains. A worker approached the campaigners and said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come. I voted for Will and followed his campaign. I saw his supporters were down in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The pay scales are ridiculous and they have to go.” He grabbed a stack of leaflets to distribute around the plant and stuck a poster on the bulletin board at the entrance.

Alex, worker at the metal stamping shop in Marion [Photo: WSWS]

A veteran worker with 24 years of auto industry experience described the Marion plant as a “melting pot” of workers who had come from other GM plants that had already closed and had seen mass layoffs there: “We have people here from Hamilton, Ohio ), Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Mansfield, Ohio, Janesville, Wisconsin, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the GM Indianapolis Stamping Plant.”

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