PHOTO: Protesters block a truck trying to access the Spring Hill General Motors plant on Thursday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
As the nationwide strike of tens of thousands of auto workers entered its fourth day on Thursday, protesters at the Spring Hill General Motors (GM) plant came to a compromise with local law enforcement following a series of arrests on Wednesday.
According to Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, somewhere between seven and nine protesters were arrested Wednesday after blocking trucks from accessing the Spring Hill GM plant. After talks were held between law enforcement and protesters, the two parties came to a compromise Thursday in which the Maury County Sheriff’s Department would allow for protesters to temporarily block trucks from entering the plant.
More: Background on strike
“It’s been a compromise,” said GM employee and strike captain David Albarran. “We’re not heathens, so we’ve agreed with law enforcement – we stop everybody at least ten minutes. The last couple guys that have come, they’ve been very cooperative.”
Albarran said that some of the truck drivers trying to access the plant had been more than happy to wait on protesters as a sign of solidarity, with one driver declaring he would simply take his lunch break while waiting. Others were not as cooperative, eliciting boos from the protesters after they were eventually let through the picket line.
Mayor Ogles has made clear his support for the union workers, particularly after GM had, without notice, stripped protesters of their healthcare coverage. And while he continues to show his support, Ogles urged protesters to cooperate with law enforcement.
“Tensions are high, and I get that,” Ogles said. “They are very passionate, but look – if law enforcement asks you to move, you’ve got to move. There were some folks that were blocking the roadway, which you can’t do. They were blocking vehicles from entering the plant, but that’s a public road.”
Ogles went on to praise how Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland, as well as his deputies have handled the protests, saying that they have all acted with “extreme grace.”
“Bucky Rowland, the chief, the law enforcement, the city and the county, they’ve been very gracious,” Ogles said. “I have been there most of the day and I’ve witnessed it, and I’ll defend each and every one of them – they’ve acted with extreme grace. But when it gets to the point when you’re asked to move, you’ve got to move.”
So while protesters have backed off blocking trucks indefinitely, vehicles trying to access the Spring Hill plant will likely still see a slight delay as the strike continues.
“When vehicles leave here, that’s how GM makes their money,” Albarran said. “We’re not making our money, so why should they make theirs?”