**Willys Overland (later Jeep Parkway) Plant: A Historical Strike in Toledo**
*Heading 1: Introduction*
The recent strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) against the Detroit 3 automakers is not only significant but holds special importance in Toledo, the birthplace of Jeep. This strike, involving 5,800 workers at the Toledo Jeep Assembly plant, marks the first time in over a century that the men and women building Jeeps have gone on strike as part of a national contract.
*Heading 2: Strikes in Toledo*
While UAW members in Toledo have gone on strike in the past, this is the first time they have done so as part of a national contract dispute. Local 14 members struck against General Motors in 2019, and Local 12 members have frequently called for job actions. However, despite changes in ownership and assembly plants, Toledo Jeep workers had never struck as part of a national contract dispute.
*Heading 2: Historical Context*
Toledo’s Local 12 was established in 1933, with workers at Willys-Overland playing a significant role. Willys-Overland, once the nation’s second-largest automaker, had faced financial difficulties during the Great Depression. However, the production of the Willys MB, later known as the Jeep, in 1940 turned the company’s fortunes around. Jeeps produced in Toledo played a crucial role in World War II and were known for their durability and capabilities.
*Heading 2: Post-War Strategy*
During and after World War II, strikes at Willys-Overland were avoided due to the importance of producing vehicles for the war effort. Longtime UAW President Walter Reuther implemented a strategy of pattern bargaining, focusing on the Detroit automaker with the most resources. This strategy benefited workers in Toledo but meant that their needs were not the primary focus in post-war negotiations.
*Heading 2: Labor Peace in Toledo*
Toledo had historically enjoyed labor peace due to the UAW’s strong presence and its participation in the Labor Management Citizens Committee. The fear of strikes and the UAW’s involvement in conflict resolution helped maintain stability in the automotive industry in Toledo. While there were smaller strikes in Toledo during this period, the UAW strikes were generally limited to smaller unions.
*Heading 2: Changes in Ownership*
Toledo’s Jeep plant became part of the “Big Three” automakers when it was purchased by Chrysler Corp. in 1987. However, even under Chrysler’s ownership, Jeep workers in Toledo had their own contract until 2015. This separate contract was finally merged into the national agreement, covering other FCA plants.
*Heading 2: Recent Strikes and Current Strike*
In 2015 and 2019, when the national agreement allowed for strikes, UAW leadership chose different strategies for Toledo Jeep workers. However, the recent strike in Toledo marks a significant departure from the past. Workers like Margaret Drummer, who has been making Jeeps for 30 years, are experiencing their first strike.
In conclusion, the recent strike at the Toledo Jeep Assembly plant holds historical significance as it is the first time workers have gone on strike as part of a national contract in over a century of Jeep production in Toledo. The unique history and significance of this plant make the strike even more noteworthy.