On November 18, 1996, after failing to reach a fair and equitable bargaining agreement and taking various concessions and cost saving measures, the proud members of Melling Forging, Unit 3 of UAW Local 724 walked off the job and went on strike. 

For almost three years, the proud membership and their families’ endured hardships rather than giving in to the company’s increased demands for more concessions and attempts at weakening the bargaining unit.

The company hired scabs who were unprepared to produce the quality forgings  previously manufactured at the facility that had been represented as a charter member of UAW Local 724since 1940.

Many of the members resorted to taking part time employment to supplement their UAW strike pay assistance of $150.00 per week. 

During the strike which is the longest in UAW Region 1-C’s proud history, not one member crossed the picket line to succumb to the company. 

The support of the labor community, faith community, and the community in general remained constant during the strike.  From retirees bringing food to donations to help with bills, to fire wood for the burn barrels to donations at the holidays, the Melling families drew strength from the outpouring of support.

One controversial occurrence happened on May 29, 1997, when a rally of support was scheduled.  There had been many signs of support, but on this day little did the supporters realized that the rally would stay etched in their memories and make the news as well.  As the event progressed, sounds were heard resonating from the north.  As we turned our collective eyes, the Lansing Police Department (LPD) in full riot gear was marching toward the picket line, the strikers, and their supporters, friends and families.  The sound of police issued batons striking the riot shields was enough to send chills up one’s spine.

What had always been tenuous but peaceful rallies suddenly and with out provocation turned ugly with the show of force by LPD.  Suddenly as if almost dream -like, canisters of tear gas were tossed into the crowd. 

We should point out that there had been heated discussions and outbursts of anger exhibited by the strikers as the scabs were escorted into the facility.  These actions were natural because this company disrespected the strikers to such a degree as to thumb their nose at them.  Many of the strikers had years of service to Melling and were second or even third generation UAW Local 724 Melling Forging employees.

There would be more rallies of support for this resilient and proud workforce none of which had the outcomes exhibited on that May 29th day.  The strike would continue until August of 1999, when it was determined that closure for the families needed to happen. 

Some of the strikers are members of Local 724 today in other workforces, some have retired, and some have found other employment. 

We all owe a debt of gratitude and admiration to those who stood up for their principles, dignity and for the right to be respected.

Please click on the below link for some video history of the Melling Forging strike.