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» LOCAL 2999 HISTORY
Every story has a beginning, including ours.
In 1997, when what had been Automotive Industries, Inc. was being transformed into Lear Corporation's Strasburg division by its new owners, scattered workers became concerned about their futures with the much larger corporation with distant headquarters that now called the shots.
They came into contact with a representative from the United Auto workers, and began efforts to organize their co-workers. They were met with hostility in the workplace from management strongly opposed to the idea, and other workers who simply didn't see the need. It was tough going, it seemed any attempt to talk about Union principles and the wisdom of organizing would draw the attention of hourly paid opponents who'd been misinformed about the nature of unions.
But as time went on, into and through 1998, the atmosphere changed. Our co-workers became more receptive to what we had to say, and the truth sank home. That in a large corporation we were all just numbers on spreadsheets, and the only way to accomplish anything in our own defense was through pulling together.
Success came early in 1999, when we were recognized as the bargaining agent by Lear Corporation management and chartered as Local 2999 of the International Union, United Automobile and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).
But our hard work was just beginning. Within the first two months, we conducted a membership drive to sign up our co-workers and elected a temporary Bargaining Committee to start negotiations on our first contract.
Under the guidance of International Union servicing representative David P. Smith, negotiations started in April of 1999. They took six weeks, and produced our first contract. This contract set many features of our working lives in legally binding terms. It also defined the structure of our Bargaining Committee and workplace representation, to be provided by Stewards. We won guarantees against our standard hours being changed from an eight hour day and five day week, the right to have representation from the union in any meeting with management, improved insurance coverage with lower costs, and increased wages across the five years of that agreement, as well as the most important provision. Our grievance procedure.
Our first regular elections were held in July 1999, filling the seats for our executive board, bargaining committee, and stewards. They took over the administration of our union and the enforcement of our contract.
The years passed, our leaders grew into their positions and gained valuable experience in them. Before we knew it, May 2002 had arrived, and it was time for our second regular elections. Most of the officials were re-elected, but some new faces were selected by the membership, and our work continued.
In 2004, with the approaching expiration of that first contract, we entered negotiations on a new one. Our success continued, we gained protections for newly hired workers and extended our string of consecutive pay increases while holding insurance costs to a specified cap.
2005 saw us hold our third set of regular elections, and as in 2002 there were new faces mixed with those staying on. Still, as ever, our work continued.
In 2007, company assets saw our location being absorbed by newly created International Automotive Components North America, led by Wilbur Ross. This development led to the re-opening of our contract and some setbacks in economics with the hope of insuring our continuing to operate as a manufacturing location under the new company. Not all agreed with this move, but as always the majority ruled. Despite the setbacks, our mission continues. To enforce our contract and do the best we possibly can for our membership in the workplace.
Later this month, we'll be holding our fourth set of regular elections. Some of the leadership may stay on, some may be new faces, but one thing is constant: The union's work continues, and the rest of this story is still unwritten.