No end in sight for UAW strikers at Williams Controls in Tigard
As their strike rolls into its ninth month, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 483 has adopted a "wait and see" approach, said striker Dave Himebauch, head of the union bargaining team at Tigard-based Williams Controls. About 120 workers at the truck throttle manufacturer have been out since Sept. 9, 2002.
The union is waiting for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rule on the local's contention that the strike was motivated by the company's unfair labor practices. If the agency sides with the union, the company would technically be forbidden to permanently replace strikers.
On April 11, UAW International Representative Ned Scott made an unconditional offer to return to work on behalf of the strikers. Williams general manager Tom Dunlap rejected the offer, saying that all the strikers' positions have been filled by permanent replacements, and that the company anticipates few, if any, vacancies for returning strikers in the near future.
Even if the union wins an NLRB complaint against the company, Williams' management has said it will appeal the decision at every level, which could delay a final resolution three to five years.
Himebauch said the return-to-work offer was in part a gambit to win unemployment benefits for the strikers, who are suffering mounting hardships, consuming the last of their savings and turning to public assistance. Himebauch said he knows of only two strikers who have found other work.
The union also hopes management will agree to settle. Though representatives from both sides continue to meet on average once a week, no item large or small has been agreed to for months.
Picket activity at the factory entrance is much reduced since Tigard police arrested three picketers in April, charging them with disorderly conduct for interfering with replacement workers who were attempting to drive through the picket line.
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