United Auto Workers members gathered outside Detroit’s Cobo Center Friday evening during the North American International Auto Show’s annual charity preview event.
They held a protest and candlelight vigil in solidarity with General Motors workers who face layoffs or relocation.
That’s because GM plans to close five U.S. plants this year, including two in Michigan: Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, and Warren Transmission.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rallied with union members before the event. She promised to “stand with” with them, saying workers had to give up a lot to keep GM afloat over the past ten years.
“You work hard every single day, and we produce the best product around. We just need to make sure the company has the same commitment to you that you’ve shown to them. Right?” Whitmer said.
Whitmer said she’ll do everything she can to protect UAW workers in Michigan. Earlier in the week, she had been reluctant to criticize GM’s move, saying she didn’t want to weigh in until she’d talked with CEO Mary Barra.
Tim O’Hara is Vice President of UAW Local 1112 at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant, another one slated for closure.
O’Hara said he and some of his membership came to Detroit for the rally to show GM that the union and community are unhappy with its decision.
“We want everybody to see that we’re united together to fight this decision, and we want them to build their vehicles in the United States,” O’Hara said. “Not China, not Mexico.”
Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist also attended the event.