WORKER REPORT: No Contract, No Tires! Yokohama Workers in Salem Fight Back


This worker report is provided by a United Steelworkers Local 1023L member Scotty Amin on the latest struggle for collective bargaining at the Yokohama Tire Plant in Salem, Virginia


About three weeks ago our contract at Yokohama was up so we all showed up and walked across Indiana St. and we faced the building and we began picketing. It seemed to me that there were quite a few more of us this contract as compared to last time, but less police presence. No state police. But it was a whole lot of us. And they had us chanting, “No contract, no tires”

“Whatta we gonna do?”

“Strike!!!” Over and over and we were getting kinda loud. Plus the union leader was directing our attention towards the front office where down to the wire negotiations were going on and salaried people were getting off from work and were visibly too chicken to leave out the front gate.

And so it’s getting nearly time to go on my shift and we’re still out there picketing and finally they’re like, “Well y’all clock in and go to your break room for further information.” So that’s what I did and we’re all sitting there in the break room and 4 o’clock goes by and I’m looking around and people started getting up and walking toward the time clock and I went with them and we were clocking out and heading for the parking lot.

By the time I get in my car I notice a few people standing by one of the union officials so I go over to them and he says that we have a tentative contract. So we’re standing there like the Monty Python scene where the knight is explaining what constitutes being a witch.

“So we’re not on strike?” I asked.

“No, we’re not on strike.” the union official said.

I responded “but we just walked out of the place.” 

“Yes, but you cannot be held liable because the company let the contract expire. They did this to themselves.” said the union official.

“………………………………………..”

“By law they were supposed to sign the contract by 4 o’clock.” he said.

“………………………………………….”

“You can go on home if you want to. Unpaid, but y’all can’t get in trouble for it.” the union official exclaimed further.

“Alright!” “YAY!!!” I shouted.

And that is how a bunch of us went on strike for a day. We also, most importantly, got rid of that two-tier pay bullshit so now new hires will be on the same level as the rest of us.

I always thought that was wrong and I always voted to strike. And now I guess we’ll see what happens until the next contract.

Will we get another day off for free? Or will we take a whole lotta days off? I’m sure they know for sure now that we aren’t playing around and we will walk in a heartbeat.

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