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'Heartbeat of the company': UAW workers in Northeast Ohio ready to picket as strike rolls on

Around 1,600 workers at Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant in Brook Park are on standby, knowing they may be called upon in the next phase of the UAW strike.

BROOK PARK, Ohio — Monday marked day 4 of the United Auto Workers strike against the Big 3 automakers - Ford, GM, and Stellantis. Workers have walked out of three Midwest plants, including the Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, while plants in Northeast Ohio are on stand by to join the picket lines if a deal isn't made.

“You're at your most vulnerable state, right? I'm a mother, I'm a wife, I have two children." said Paula Reed, who works for Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Complex and has been picketing. "You're at your most vulnerable state. Most of my community members are. These are my brothers and my sisters. These are my family. I will never forget everyone that stood by me."

She is one of 6,500 in Toledo and one of 13,000 autoworkers in totally currently striking for fair wages and benefits.

“It's unfair," Reed told 3News emotionally. "It's not righteous. Enough is enough. Stop the greed. We’re prepared for however long it takes. I hope and pray that it does not take long. How much longer do you want to hold your foot over my neck and over my union brothers and sisters?"

Meanwhile, about 1,600 workers at Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant in Brook Park are on standby.

Pat Wallace, a spokesman for UAW local 1250, said their Ford plant could be called on in the next phase of the strike. He explained that their workers walking out could be devastating to Ford's chain of operation since they make 65 to 70 percent of Ford's motor engines.

“We’re the heartbeat of the company," he said.

The UAW has asked for a 40% raise for their next contract, but up to this point the Big 3 automakers have only offered 20%.

Wallace said that's not enough.

“CEOs in the company got 40%," he said. "Make $26 million, $29 million a year and that was basically a 40% pay raise for them in the last couple of years. So why shouldn’t the working-class people be equal to where the CEOs are making millions of dollars."

Andrew Whalen and his wife, who both work for the Ford plant, agree. They're ready to join the picket line.

“We’re as anxious as anybody else," he expressed to 3News. "It’s a tense time, but we’re also confident. We back our union and want to see a fair contract. There’s been many late nights. You can ask her. We’ve been planning and getting ready for this for a while. Saving money, cutting down costs, preparing because with any reward is going to come sacrifice and we’re ready to do our part to hold the line if necessary.”

Wallace said his higher ups at UAW International told him negotiations continued over the weekend and will continue Monday. His chapter members have their picket signs and strike schedules set and are ready to start picketing at a moment's notice.

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