Category Archives: Hammond

Hammond Man Arrested After Creating Social Media Firestorm

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A Hammond man is behind bars tonight being held without bail. 25 year old Kevin Kirby of Hammond posted the following Facebook comment yesterday:

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Shortly thereafter, the comment went viral. The Gazette received it from several sources. Today the Gazette has learned that bond for Kirby has been revoked on an unrelated Felony charge. In May of this year, Kirby was charged with resisting arrest as a result of an incident that occurred in Highland. He was out on bond for that offense. After Kirby’s comments went viral, prosecutors quickly moved to revoke his bond on that charge. According to Court documents, Prosecutors faxed a notice of hearing to Kirby’s attorney on September 16. A hearing was scheduled for September 17 but neither Kirby nor his attorney showed. At that time, the Court issued a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear which was quickly executed.

Information as to the nature of the revocation hearing was not available at the time of this article. Presumably, the revocation had something to do with his comments. Nonetheless, the case raises a serious due process issue. There is no indication in the record that Kirby’s lawyer actually received the notice of hearing. Absent actual notice, a failure to appear warrant should not issue absent an imminent and specific identifiable threat. On the other hand, if action was not taken and someone was injured, we may be having a different conversation.

Please let us know what you think in the comments. Should Kirby have been arrested? Should he have been given more notice of a hearing?

LEAR BACK TO WORK !
Battle Moves to Big Three

Ford Motor Co. employees are hoping to end their two-tier wage agreement in 2015

by Ken Davidson

Lear Hammond workers put down their picket signs and head back to work.
Lear Hammond workers put down their picket signs and head back to work.

September 14, 2014-Moments ago, UAW Local 2335 workers at Lear Corporation’s Hammond Plant put down their picket signs and walked back into the plant. The assembly line roared to life as union men and women got back to producing seats for Ford. The fight over a two tier wage system is over- for now.Sources close to the negotiations tell me that the two-tier pay system at Lear is a thing of the past. Top pay for Lear workers will move from just under $20.00 per hour to just over $21.50 per hour. More important, however, is that all workers will be able to ultimately attain the higher wage. “We are all brothers and sisters, we are family” said Aaron “Hammer” Straker of UAW Local 551.

Small Battle, Big Fight

That union family includes members of UAW Local 551 who came out to support Lear workers. UAW Local 551 workers assemble Ford vehicles in the south Chicago plant. They also have a two-tier wage system and are hoping to eliminate that structure in 2015 when their contract is up.

Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all implemented the two-tier wage system in 2007.  With a weak economy, workers saw no choice but to cede to the demands of the employers.  Suppliers like Lear followed suit. The system provides  lower starting wages as well as a lower cap on wages for workers hired after the contract took effect. Under the Ford contract, Tier II workers earn between $15.89 and $19.74 according to rank and file workers. Tier I workers earn approximately $28.00 per hour. At Lear Seating in Hammond, Local 2335 workers start at $11.00 per hour and top out at $16.00 per hour under Tier II of the contract. Tier I workers top out around $20.00 per hour.

Both management and labor representatives agree that the two-tier system should be eliminated. Of course, management would like to eliminate tier I wages while labor would like to move everyone toward tier I. According to automotive website inautonews.com  Chrysler CEO Sergio Merchionne would like to eliminate the Tier I wage scale through attrition, leaving all employees on the lower tier II wage scale:“The way you do this is you grandfather the Tier 1s,” Marchionne said of the veteran workers. “You make them a dying class and you build a Tier 2 structure that sets the wage mechanism for the next generation.When you have a bumper year, you pay the latter, as much as a Tier 1 would make if not more. But if I’m in the toilet because
the markets are down or GM is successful, or Ford, and then we go down in earnings,then I think at the end of the day you share the pain with the company.”

Ford workers may have been the biggest victors in today’s battle.

LEAR – UAW Reach A Tentative Agreement

Ford South Chicago  United Auto Workers Local 551 members stand the lines with Lear United Auto Workers Local 2335.

Ford South Chicago United Auto Workers Local 551 members stand the lines with Lear United Auto Workers Local 2335.

According to a statement from UAW Local 2335 President Jaime Luna, labor and management have reached a tentative agreement which could end the Lear strike in Hammond.

“Workers reached a tentative contract agreement with Lear Sunday, ending the strike that began Saturday morning. The agreement shows that when workers stick together, we can win higher wages that help us support our families. The agreement is a victory not just for the 760 workers at our plant, but for thousands of auto workers across the country who do the same hard work we do and want to be able to reach the middle class.”

Details of the deal will be released once the contract is ratified by members of UAW Local 2335. A date for the ratification vote is still to be determined.

ON STRIKE: UAW Walks the Picket Line at Lear

United Auto Workers Local 2235 On Strike in Hammond, Indiana

United Auto Workers Local 2235 On Strike in Hammond, Indiana

September 12, 2014-Several hundred workers walked a picket line along 165th Street in Hammond this morning as Lear and the labor organization failed to reach an agreement by a 6:00 a.m. deadline. The union voted 96% in favor of a strike last month, but continued negotiations with the Company in order to try to avert a strike.

The impact on other businesses was not readily assessable, but trucks sat empty in the parking lot. Work at the Ford Motor Co. plant in South Chicago will likely be affected shortly as they do not stockpile seats but rely on Lear Corp. to provide them as needed. Everything from suppliers to trucking firms to nearby businesses will likely feel the impact if an agreement is not reached soon.

Are you a UAW member? The Gazette wants to hear from you. Write us at ken@northwestindianagazette.com


Trucks sit empty as a Hammond Police Car patrols the parking lot at Lear Corp. while workers strike just feet away.

Lear UAW Workers Set Deadline for Strike

More than 750 members of UAW Local 2235 will be on the picket lines tomorrow if an agreement cannot be reached tonight. According to workers at the plant, the Union has given Lear a 6:00 am deadline to meet their demands for a new contract or they will strike.

Lear employees voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in August but continued to work in the hope that an agreement could be reached. The primary issue is Lear’s two tier wage system whereby workers hired in recent years, the second tier, can only make up to $16 per hour. First tier employees can make up to $20 per hour. Employees also want assurances that jobs will not be transferred to other low wage plants.

The Hammond Lear plant makes automotive seating for Ford vehicles. It is unclear what effect a strike at Lear would have on operations at the Ford plant in Chicago, but some speculate that plant would shut down temporarily during any Lear strike. Lear stock closed at $102.13 today, down $.50 but up significantly from the 12 month low of $69.40.

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