Daimler deploys strikebreakers at Portland truck plant


A fast-moving convoy of vans and SUVs nearly run over one picketing union member as it passes a plant gate

By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor

Fifteen days into a strike by 588 machinists and painters, Daimler Trucks North America introduced striker replacements to its Portland truck plant. At about 6:30 a.m. July 15, a fast-moving convoy of vans and SUVs drove through the gate to the main employee entrance, and nearly ran over one picketing union member.

Craig Blair, a 32-year employee at the truck plant, said he was marching back and forth across the entrance with a strike picket sign when company guards opened the gate, and a line of about five white vans, three black SUVs and several cars drove up.

“I had to step back or be run over,” Blair said.

“If he had stayed put, would have been hit,” says picket captain Riller Clegg, who saw strikebreakers drive through her strike picket line at 6:30 a.m. July 16.
“If he had stayed put, would have been hit,” says picket captain Riller Clegg, who saw strikebreakers drive through her strike picket line at 6:30 a.m. July 16.

Picket captain Riller Clegg witnessed the incident, and says she tried to use her smart phone to film it, but it happened too quickly. Company guards were filming, however.

Another striker called police, and an officer took a statement. No charges were filed.

Machinists District W24 Union Rep Joe Kear said it was unlikely that such a small group of inexperienced workers would be able to produce trucks any time soon, but he said the company’s use of striker replacements sends a pretty clear message to union members. “They’re putting money into counter-strike measures, instead of into an offer.”

No progress in further talks

Daimler met July 10 with representatives of the Machinist and Painters unions, but showed no willingness to improve its final offer — 10 days into a strike at its Swan Island truck plant in Portland. More talks were scheduled for July 17 and 18, after this issue went to press.

No trucks have been produced at the plant since 520 Machinists and 68 painters struck July 1. The Swan Island plant is the only site manufacturing Western Star trucks, which are specialized for use in logging, mining, and other industries.

Members of Machinists Lodge 1005 and Sign Painters and Painter Makers Local 1094 walked out after rejecting a company offer that included raises of $1.30 an hour over three years. They’ve had no raises for four years, during which time productivity increased 25 percent. The company’s proposed raises would have been partially offset by increased health insurance co-pays. The company proposal also would eliminate supplemental health coverage after retirees turn 65.

The strike has also idled 117 members of Teamsters Local 305 and 19 members of Service Employees International Union Local 49 who work at the truck plant. Workers in those units voted to ratify the company’s offer, but are honoring the picket line.

On July 2, the company declared that employer-provided medical benefits were terminated effective July 1 — not just for the strikers but for Local 305 and 49 members as well, who were deemed to be waging a “sympathy strike.” Workers will have 60 days to decide whether to continue health insurance coverage at their own expense. COBRA coverage will cost over $500 a month for single employees, and as much as $1,672 a month for family coverage.

“The company is playing hard ball trying to make sure it’s painful for folks,” Kear said.

Workers received their final checks July 9 for work performed prior to July 1, so there are no immediate hardship cases yet, said Dave Clingen, chair of the strike resource committee. Clingen said his committee’s purpose is to make sure members don’t give in to company demands because of financial hardship. As the strike continues, the committee will be working with Labor’s Community Service Agency to get benefits to strikers who need them. LCSA’s Helping Hands program paid for glaucoma medication for one striker. There are also plans to set up a food bank if the strike drags out.

Striking Machinists got their first union-provided strike benefits July 16. A Lodge 1005 strike fund provides a $120-a-week benefit starting the second week of the strike. In week three, the international union will kick in an additional $150 a week. Members who serve one day a week of picket line duty are eligible for the strike benefits, which will be disbursed every Tuesday at the union hall in Gladstone.

Painters Local 1094, by contrast, doesn’t have a strike fund, but the Oregon AFL-CIO is calling for contributions to help them set one up. Checks can be made out to IUPAT Local 1094 and sent to: 6770 E. Marginal Way South, Building E, Room 303-B, Seattle, WA 98108. Be sure to write ‘Strike Fund’ in the memo line.

Sympathy from North Carolina, and Germany

Thus far, strikers have received statements of support from United Auto Workers, which represents Daimler workers in North and South Carolina, and from the German union IG Metall.

“It is an encouraging sign that our brothers and sisters take control of their destiny, even if it entails conflict,” said Erich Klemm, IG Metall’s representative on Daimler’s supervisory board. “As unionists we know that we have to resort to industrial action from time to time in order to protect the best interests of our members … .”

Daimler is headquartered in Germany, where by law workers have a representative on corporate boards.

On the picket line, frequent police calls

Daimler strikersPickets continue 24 hours a day at seven sites outside the Portland truck assembly plant and a separate facility that performs pre-delivery inspections.

Striking members told the Labor Press July 12 that they are being harassed by security guards, who have called Portland police “four or five times” complaining of pickets blocking gate entrances. One call was for splashing water on a guard (accidentally, from a spilled water bottle, a picketer said). Two police cars sped past a picket line at North Basin Avenue on July 12 as the Labor Press was taking photos.

“They said they were called because we supposedly were blocking the gate,” Machinists at a closed front gate in front of the Western Star plant on Fathom Street told the Labor Press. “The police told us just to keep moving. They didn’t care how slow, just keep moving.”

Through it all, spirits remain high as members rally behind the principle that they deserve to benefit from their company’s rising profitability.


  1. Don, this is a fabulous article–it should hit the national press if there was any justice in the USA; or any recognition of true journalism. Thank you and my most humble admiration for all the strikers from all the unions involved.

  2. Don’t be fooled,there’s no way the incompetent management at western star can get a bunch of untrained scabs to do all of the 700 plus jobs. Once again this is all just a charade visual propaganda. No, the longer this goes the more management will see its hopeless for them. The company is losing millions each day. We just losing a few hundred. Keep up the good fight!

  3. Picketers this morning Wed 7/17 witnessed some empty vans others with very few people in them go through the gate. They observed them go behind the building go around then go through the gate again. It appears there really is no scab production work just the appearance of it. The press and others say scabs are working there, has a spokesperson for Western Star said this? Is so are materials to build trucks being delivered to the plant?

  4. WELL BROTHERS AND SISTERS AS WE ARE HEARING WE HAVE HIT A INPASS IN THIS WAR. I have no vote to give in this contracted and with the threats that have been made I well not tell you all how to vote , but I well add some facts . The company has tried to install the fear of God in our negotiating committee . and in some respects it may have worked , I have told you all about a TRAPED animal . it is now in its last dying day before it gives up it well bite and claw and in this case LIE to get free and get what it wants it well do anything , ANYTHING . Paul has dug into his bag of tricks and pulled out his last weapons to use against us all . THOSE BEING THEY WELL CLOSE THE PLANT DOWN AND MOVE BACK EAST AND THEY WELL CUT THE RETIREES THROAT AND BENNY’S , using them as his last tool to win . He has told the negotiating committee he don’t care how much money they lose As long as he is right , WE know this is a LIE all HE has ever cared about is MONEY , USEING THE TERM BEING RIGHT IS LIKE THE MISS USE OF THE WORD INTAGRATY WHERE AGAIN HE IS USEING IT OUT OF CONTEXT AND HAS NO IDEA OF THE TRUE MEANING he really has neither, HE thinks being right is putting a gun to our head and using extortion as being right . and he thinks using old timers and their family’s and hurting them is right , he thinks moving the plant and our lively hood is right ? THIS SHOWS US THE MENTALITY WE ARE UP AGAINST AND ALSO HOW DESPERATE HE IS , It shows how right I was when I said he is a sociopath LIER he truly is , he has no cares for us or anyone but his own little pocket book and the rest of the management cult. Hell he doesn’t want to build trucks he wants to build people and make them his puppets . a sick mind indeed ,he really needs to be locked up for his own good and ours and the company’s safety , but again as I said this is the animals last dying fight before it dies , their are a few other things to consider . THEY HAD RECORD PROFITS IN THE LAST FEW YEARS .TRUCK SALES ARE UP AND THEY ARE BEHIND IN THE BUILD And what with them building a new corporate building and the new test center and the great tax brakes they give them here in Portland . leaving town and pulling the rug out from under a thou send older retired people and leaving 750 people with out jobs for just for a FEW DOLLERS from us is a pretty bad bluff on his part . just so he can be RIGHT ?? he is like a little kid who cant share or admit he is wrong , again Germany needs to look at who they got running things a little more closely . I HAVE SAID WE HAVE THE HIGH GROUND , THE FIRST TO BLINK WINS . They have blinked and have now gave us a second last agreement after he said the first was the last , another LIE and their is more to come if you hold out their well be a third and forth last agreement , THIS IS HIS LAST BLUFF AS he has nothing more in his bag tricks to threaten us with. NOW AS I HAVE SAID I DONT HAVE A VOTE AND I WELL NOT TELL YOU HOW YOU SHOULD VOTE .THE CONSEQUENCES ARE TO HIGH FOR ME SAY I REALLY HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY I AM JUST STATEING FACTS . Paul has put it on YOU to feel it out IF he is BLUFFING AND ARE WELLING TO GAMBLE WITH YOUR JOBS OR THE OLD TIMES RETIREMENT BENNYS . THIS IS A HEAVEY PATH HE HAS WALKED US DOWN , and you well all have to seek your own hart and soul to find your answer . it needs all your thought and you should think real hard about it . IS HE BLUFFING OR FULL OF SHIT . AGAIN IT IS A REAL GAMBLE. THE RISKS ARE TOO HIGH NOT TO PUT A LOT OF THOUGHT IN TO , true if we win it would be great but if we lose it would be devastating ,* A third point of view is to go back to work as we do have our pride back and pick up and take the fight back in the truck plant day by day , we well still hate management we well not put any of our new found pride in to the trucks just into our self’s and our home life’s to hell with quality they well get what they pay for , PAUL DON’T SEEM TO CARE ABOUT OUR COSTUMERS IT WELL BE HARD BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS LEAD . .we well take as much time a OFF as we want or need to feel good about our life’s .REALLY taking time off is ease and fun too , I miss a 100 days a year on average and did not have one attendances letters this is something I CAN teach each and everyone of you to do HELL I WELL WRITE IT UP AND PUT IT IN A PAMPHLET . REALLY I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY TROUBLE TAKEING TIME OFF AND NITHER WOULD YOU .DAYS WEEKS OR MONTHS its ease it only pays half but it all works out real well , and with most of us getting older it is needed , and the 111 that well lose our benny’s we can stay on for two to six more years and build up our pensions then we could cover the loss of our benny’s and just work PART TIME in the truck plant again it is ease . be good to our body’s AND hang out a few more years its not so bad if your not their everyday , if they want to take away we well stay. THAT’S WHAT I AM GOING TO DO . they cant stop FMLA we should ALL get on it first of January. and when 200 or 300 hundred people are gone on any given day legally it well drive them mad , I brake no rules and neither would you . just a third option we can consider we are not trapped their ,AGAIN I HAVE NO VOTE IN THIS AND I HAVE GAVE NO OPINION JUST FACTS AND OPTIONS. AS FOR YOU I ASK YOU TO THINK ABOUT IT ALL AND VOTE YOUR CONSCIOUS AND EITHER WAY IT TURNS OUT IT WELL WORK OUT IN THE LONG RUN . and I well support it , we have already won and are RIGHT no matter what AS I SEE IT . YOUR BROTHER DELBERT


  6. What can you say ?? everything must be this way . This fight was fought with pride and dignity and passion something we have never exhibit or shown in 50 yrs the STATEMENT we made has made us WINNERS and RIGHT no matter what the out come , I SEEN 500 OF MY FELLOW BROTHERS AND SISTERS HOLD TOGETHER AND HOLD THE LINE AGAINST THE LARGEST POWER IN THE FREE WORLD FOR FOUR WEEKS AT THE COST OF MILLONS TO THEM AND ALMOST DROVE THEM TO THIER KNEES .I SEEN US MAKE OUR STATEMENTS HERD . WE HAVE SHOWN WE ARE GREAT AND CAN MAKE A GREAT DIFFERNCES, WE FOUGHT WITH HART AND SOUL AND SHOWED THE WORLD AND EACH OTHER WHAT WE WHERE MADE OF.WE HAVE SHOWN OUR FIGHT AND SACRIFICES WAS JUST NOT ABOUT MONEY OR BINNYS BUT ABOUT BEING TREATED LIKE HUMAN BEINGS , words are cheep . you people have SHOWN your PRIDE BY DEEDS . that’s something no amount of money can buy . You can look in the mirror and be PROUD of yourself’s and each other. YOUR voice and determinations has shown the Germans the need for change in their management . WE have shown we can count on each other and have shown we DO have a voice and have learned to use it we have found our POWER , it is US . in this fight we did not get all we asked for we got far MORE. and have learned you can lose a battle and still come back and wage and WIN THE WAR . for it well still go on day by day , WE TOOK THE HIGH GROUND AND WE WELL KEEP IT. THEY CAN KEEP THIER MONEY ,GREED AND LACK OF RESPECT THEY HAVE FOR US AND THEMSELFS . BUT WE WELL KEEP OUR PRIDE , THEY KNOW NOW THEY WHERE IN A FIGHT .we took everything they had to throw at us and we kept coming and we only let up after they pulled LIES and extortion ,IN the lowest form thretening our jobs and family’s and loved ones ,and they had to as it was their ONLY bid to win . BUT we did bloody the Bully’s nose he well think twice next time . WE HAVE WON IN SO MANY WAYS AND WE NOW MAY WALK THE TRUCK PLANT KNOWING WE WHERE RIGHT AND FOUGHT TO PROVE IT ,WE HAVE SHOWN WE ARE GREATER AND THEY ARE LESSER , YES PEOPLE WE HAVE TAKEN THE HIGH GROUND GOING INTO THE NEXT THREE YEARS YOU CAN LOOK DOWN ON THEM AND KNOW WHAT WE ARE MADE OF AND HOW LITTLE THEY HAVE MADE OF THEMSELFS FOR SURE THEY KNOW, IT MAY STING FOR THIS MOMENT BUT YOU WELL FIND AS TIME GO;S ON THIS TO BE A GREAT TRUTH .Again I would like to point out the sacrifices you put out in time and money for this cause and each other was beyond belief I hope you all can be as proud of yourself’s as I am of you All . you really are the TRUE WINNERS . never again well they tell us we folded like chairs NEVER. and you all know now we all got each others back .WOW it has never been so TRUE. WE ALL owe great THANKS for all the great support from our leaders and negotiating committee each and everyone of them .they stood tall and firm in the face of evil and darkness in getting us all they could squeeze out of the greedy company.[ from ME THANK YOU guys ] it had to be the hardest fight in this war . WE must thank all the strike captains for their round the clock 24-7 work they put out for us all .a job well done again [ THANK YOU ] A big THANKS must go to all the venders on the island and else where for their help and support and for all they gave us well we where on the line once again [ THANK YOU ] And to all the fine people who would NOT cross our pickets line [THANK YOU ] we found allies and support where we never knew we had it .even the POLICE just plane GREAT . And we all need to thank EACH OTHER for showing how much we care about EACH OTHER . and last ””” I ”MUST THANK YOU ALL AND THE UNION FOR LETING ME BE PART OF THIS GREAT FIGHT AND TO HAVE A VOICE EVEN IF THE COMPANY DID TAKE MY VOTE AWAY. I have never felt more a part of and A WINNER AND MORE PROUD TO WORK WITH SUCH A GREAT BUNCH . WE SHOULD ALL WALK TALL. ONCE AGAIN WE WELL ALL HAVE GREAT PRIDE TO BUILD GREAT TRUCKS FOR THE WORLD . I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED MOTHER FREIGHTLINER AKA WESTERN STAR ALWAYS . WELL STILL LOOKING DOWN ON THOSE WHO [ TRY ] AND RUN IT . I well say I am sorry for my inability to spell or put things in proper sentence or paragraphs but I am thinking you always got my drift .AND AGAIN THANKS SO MUCH YOU PEOPLE ARE THE ” NEW LORDS OF THE TRUCK PLANT ” WALK TALL. yours in truth and solidarity BROTHER DELBERT


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