On one of the first drizzly days in Beaverton this fall, Joseph Acosta sat under a pop-up tent in front of the Chrysler Parts Distribution Center. The longtime auto worker was signing up for strike benefits from the United Auto Workers union to help provide for his family while he’s on the picket line. Behind him, drivers honked their horns in support.
“I’m a third-generation Chrysler worker,” said Acosta, who started in the auto industry 10 years ago in his hometown of Belvidere, Illinois. “They have done good for my family. It’s just now that times are changing, we want to be treated just as fair. They’re making record-breaking profits, it should trickle down to the workers who helped make those profits.”
As he stepped out into the rain on Monday to join other workers on strike, Acosta said he moved to the Portland area two years ago to work at the Beaverton center. That’s when he got more involved in the local union.
The United Auto Workers Union strike started on Sept. 15 and expanded on Friday by more than 5,500 workers. Strikes are targeting 30 U.S. locations run by General Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler and operator of the parts facility in Beaverton, where more than 40 workers are employed. The UAW union said that more than 18,000 workers were on strike across the country as of Monday.
Jill McCambridge, the local union benefits representative in Beaverton, has been working in the auto industry for 26 years. She said that when car companies were facing dramatic losses in 2007, employees were willing to help out.
“We were asked to open our contract up and make some concessions,” McCambridge said from the picket line Monday. “We all voted to do that to help support our company, keep it going.”
She said Stellantis needs to keep its promise to raise wages and provide other benefits, now that the company is profitable again. In the first six months of 2023, Stellantis reported nearly $12 billion in profits.
Stellantis declined OPB’s request for an interview.