Gary Walkowicz, speaking for the ranks

Gary has played a leading role in opposing the push by big companies to drive down the workers' standard of living. Concretely, he organized opposition to concessions demands made of autoworkers throughout the years. By searching his name, you can find reference to many those fights. We reprint below excerpts from various media that give a sense of the role he has played speaking for those workers who today want to resist.

The following excerpts focus on Gary's decision to contest for the top position in the UAW: first from the AP account, then from Automotive News, then from a letter circulated at the time by the late Jerry Tucker, a respected oppositionist inside the UAW, who was the last person before Gary who dared to contest for top position in the UAW. Finally, there is a video in which Gary denounces "two-tier" wage deals that guarantee the next generation will live worse than did their parents.


From a post by the Associated Press, picked up by MLive on June 9, 2010, under the title, “Ford worker, Gary Walkowicz, in long-shot bid for UAW presidency.”

"DETROIT — A worker at a Ford Motor Co. pickup truck factory in Dearborn, Michigan, will run against United Auto Workers Vice President Bob King for the union's top post.

But Gary Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman at the F-150 pickup plant, says he knows there is little chance he can win because of the way delegates are elected for the union's Constitutional Convention, which begins Monday in Detroit....

Walkowicz announced his candidacy Wednesday in a letter to fellow workers at the plant.

He said he'll campaign to reverse concessions given to Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

The union, he said, should try to get back cost-of-living raises, retiree health care benefits, bonuses and other items it gave up in negotiations during the last three years....

Walkowicz was among the leaders who helped defeat a round of concessions to Ford last fall. Those concessions were negotiated by King...."

From a post by Automotive News, June 10, under the title, "Presidential candidacy of UAW dissident enlivens upcoming convention."

"Walkowicz, a 61-year-old bargaining committeeman, is sanguine about his chances. He concedes that he can't win.

But he intends to use his candidacy as a platform to oppose additional concessions and warn against what he views as an increasingly cozy relationship between the international and the car companies.

His audience won't be the hundreds of UAW delegates in an air-conditioned Cobo Center. It will be the more than 100,000 active hourly workers on Detroit 3 factory floors, said fellow dissident Gregg Shotwell.

'He's really out to build resistance to further concessions during next year's master contract negotiations," Shotwell said. "He'll be talking to a rank-and-file that otherwise wouldn't care what happens at this convention.'

It was Walkowicz last autumn who led the successful grassroots campaign to stop additional concessions that King negotiated with Ford to try to bring benefits down to better deals at General Motors and Chrysler."

From "Fixing The Broken Compass, Statement of Jerry Tucker, former UAW International Executive Board Member, on Upcoming UAW Convention Presidential Election Contest."

"An election challenge for the top office of the UAW International Union—now that’s a rare event!...

With the announcement of rank & file worker Gary Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman at a Local 600 unit in Greater Detroit, that he will be a candidate for the UAW International Union Presidency, that all too rare, but democratically therapeutic event is now likely to appear. For a shrunken, battered union rank and file, a contest featuring the opportunity to foster a debate on the ruling administration’s policies and the resulting sorely unmet needs of the membership, should be a very welcome thing....

Eighteen years is a long time to go without having a critical debate on the direction and purpose of what is billed as a ‘membership owned’ union. Delegates to the upcoming Convention should celebrate the occasion....

Gary Walkowicz, whose voice spoke truth to power so eloquently during the Ford Contract reopener rejection vote, should command both the respect of his delegate brothers and sisters who are being given this rare opportunity to lend their own voice to the reformation of a once proud union sorely in need of a new direction."

Finally, there is this video of Gary speaking at a demonstration in 2010 against the "two-tier" wage deals cut between the auto companies and the union leadership that lower the standard of living of the next generation of workers – and not just in auto.

 

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