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Union members in Syracuse rally in support of striking auto workers

Union members in Syracuse rally at Syracuse City Hall in support of striking UAW workers.
Ellen Abbott
Union members in Syracuse rally at Syracuse City Hall in support of striking UAW workers.

Striking union workers in Michigan have the support of central New York politicians and union members, as dozens rallied on the steps of Syracuse City Hall Wednesday to show their support.

“We have a proud history here in the city of Syracuse,” said Mayor Ben Walsh. “We have a proud history with the UAW specifically. So when our brothers and sisters are fighting for their rights, no matter where it is, downstate, Michigan, we're gonna stand with them and we're gonna stand for them.”

While there are no more factories in central New York represented by the UAW, there are still thousands of retirees who used to work in factories represented by the union, like Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson.

“I am standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters throughout the UAW family because we need our just desserts,” said Hudson. “We need to be able to recover what we've lost in all the concessions. Because the cost of the cars, they haven't gone down."

Supporters say the strikers are only trying to get back the standards agreed to before the financial crisis 15 years ago that led to temporary concessions that saved the auto industry. Walsh told the crowd this issue is simply about the people.

"Don't get it twisted. Don't listen,” Walsh said. “People will tell you it's about politics. It's about the president. It's about profit. This is about people. And we have hardworking men and women that are not being given their just due.”

John O’Hara, who represents 10,000 retired UAW workers in the Syracuse area, said they may join strike lines if they come closer. Whether plants in the Buffalo area and other parts of Upstate go on strike, depends on talks going on now.

"All depends on what's going on right now in negotiations and to see if it's going to get better or whether we're still at a stalemate, and I don't think we should be budging,” O’Hara said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.