As the United Auto Workers strike continues, the union is accusing non-union contractors of violence against picketers — including in a Flint, Mich., incident this week when five striking workers at a General Motors parts depot were hit by a vehicle, and two of them were hospitalized.
The union on Thursday released a video in which UAW President Shawn Fain said, “We condemn this violence that GM and Stellantis are enabling,” and called on the public to join the picket lines.
on Thursday both denied having hired any outside replacement workers.
General Motors spokesperson Kevin Kelly said Thursday that the suspected driver of the SUV that hit the picketers was “a third-party housekeeping contractor” who was performing “normal duties,” and not a temporary replacement worker. Kelly added that the company is cooperating with an investigation by local authorities, and that the contractor and two others who were in the vehicle have been banned from any GM properties.
In the video, Fain also referred to a UAW member and a Massachusetts state senator who were allegedly hit by vehicles at a Stellantis parts depot in Massachusetts, and to UAW members in Southern California who he said had had guns pulled on them by non-union truckers, also at a Stellantis parts depot.
It was not immediately clear which Massachusetts state senator was allegedly hit by a vehicle. The UAW has not responded to a request for the name of the senator.
Patrick Lozeau, the financial secretary for UAW Local 422 in Massachusetts, said in an interview with MarketWatch on Thursday that Paul Gato, the worker who was hurt in that state, was hit by a tractor trailer that pulled into a driveway very quickly late last week. Lozeau said Gato was “thrown backwards several feet” and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance, but is doing better.
Since then, Lozeau said, “we have police coverage 24/7 now.” Originally, there were just two police officers assigned to the facility, and only at certain times. “Yesterday, there were 16 picketers and 23 police officers,” he said.
See: UAW could expand strike again on Friday
Stellantis spokesperson Jodi Tinson hit back against Fain’s accusations, and in turn accused striking union workers of directing violent behavior and verbal abuse at other company employees who had crossed the picket line.
“We are appalled by the UAW’s characterization of the incidents occurring on the picket lines,” Tinson said, calling Fain’s statements in the video “misleading and inflammatory.”
Tinson added: “Since the UAW expanded its strike to our parts distribution centers last Friday, we’ve witnessed an escalation of dangerous, and even violent, behavior by UAW picketers at several of those facilities, including slashing truck tires, jumping on vehicles, following people home and hurling racial slurs at dedicated Stellantis employees who are merely crossing the picket line to do their jobs.”
Tinson did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request to provide links to reports of such behavior.
A UAW spokesperson would not comment on the Stellantis accusations Thursday. The union did share the instructions it had given striking workers about picket-line dos and dont’s, which include encouraging workers to conduct peaceful patrols near employee entrances and discouraging workers from preventing or blocking anyone from entering or leaving company facilities.
Lozeau has worked at Stellantis for 23 years, going back to the Chrysler days. He said that “it’s not worth endangering anyone,” and that he and his fellow union members just want a fair contract and to get back to work.
“I want to walk back in there upright,” Lozeau said.
Read more: Union files charge over violence against striking L.A. hotel workers, organizers
See also: Violent clashes are marring a summer of labor solidarity. Here’s what happened at a wedding.
UAW says picketing workers are getting hit by cars, having guns pulled on them