UAW Local 848

Area Merchants Help "Save Our Jobs"

Kirk Frederick, General Manager of Graff Chevrolet on Main Street in Grand Prairie, was eager to put one of Local 848's signs on his window.

Almost All Area Merchants Agree with "Save Our Jobs" Campaign

With the major exception of Grand Prairie Ford, Local 848's "Save our Jobs" petitioning campaign has been extremely successful among area merchants. Brian Caldwell filled seven sheets with petitions as he tramped around Grand Prairie on August 23.

When he started his spiel at the Ford dealership, though, General Manager Keith Sheldon interrupted him saying, "Ok, stop. You mean to tell me a man comes in and purchases the land and he wants to do this with the land, raise the rent, and you mean to tell me the G*D* union is going to tell him how to run his business?"

Caldwell then went on to explain that the economic impact of a plant closing at the Jefferson Street facility of Triumph Aerostructures would hurt everyone in the area, including sales of Ford cars. He said that the workers at Vought use their discount to buy from Grand Prairie Ford, so it would be in everybody's interest to support our effort to save jobs.

Sheldon was adamant: "I don't give a G*D* if any of your f*ing employees buys another car from me again!"

Caldwell said, "I will let my membership know that."

The manager at Grand Prairie Ford ended the conversation with, "You f*ing tell them!"

Brian Caldwell did tell other employees and union members about his experience at Grand Prairie Ford. Union Member L.D. Sims, who was in the process of buying a new car from them, immediately called the dealership to cancel his offer. Caldwell summarized the experience, "I'd hate to be one of his employees!"

All but three merchants signed our union petitions and took window signs showing their support. One said only "maybe" because she had to check higher up. At one other place, Caldwell failed to get a petition signed. They said, "I appreciate it, I respect it, and thank you very much for coming by." Caldwell explains why he left without incident, "I've learned over the years that everybody doesn't have the same opinion that you do, and I didn't want anything to come out bad for our brothers and sisters."

At all the other places Caldwell went to, merchants were eager to help. One said, "I saw this on television. Give me that petition and I'll sign it!" Another said, "Do you know what happened when the Naval Air Station (beside the Jefferson plant) shut down? When they shut down, it nearly closed us down!"

Over at Graff Chevrolet on Main Street, Caldwell had a pretty good experience. The general manager there told him, at first, that he had to check with the owner. Caldwell ended up talking to the owner, Stan Graff, who told him that his own father worked at the Jefferson plant. He said that he told his employees, "Any union member, any Vought employee that comes over here for vehicle repair or to buy something, you jump through your a* and you take care of them!" The dealership owner told Caldwell to go directly into the dealership and "get every employee to sign that petition!" Brian Caldwell signed up the general manager and everybody else on the site!

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