Chattanooga, Tennessee — A coalition of community groups announced today that they are hosting a “Solidarity Fundraiser for Injured Volkswagen Workers” this coming Friday, April 18th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Chattanooga’s historic North Shore community. This event is being organized to raise money for Lon Gravett and Ed Hunter, two former Volkswagen employees who were badly injured while working on the assembly line at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen factory. The fundraiser is being hosted by Chattanooga for Workers, a local grassroots community group, and Mercy Junction, a Christian ministry group.
According to one local worker on the assembly line floor at the Chattanooga Volkswagen factory, “everyone who works here is injured.” Workers leave the factory everyday in pain, with soreness, numbness, and sometimes even more serious injuries. Health and safety issues related to production are a top concern for many workers involved in the union organizing drive, but they remained publicly silent on the subject due to the previous neutrality agreement between the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen.
“I love building cars but I cannot imagine how it can be a life-long career for anyone due to the toll it takes on our bodies,” said Ed Hunter. “The simple fact is that some of the working conditions in the factory are not safe.”
Both Ed Hunter and Lon Gravett worked in the local factory for years until they were both seriously injured on the job. Now, their families face rising medical bills without the security of the job they both once held. Both Hunter and Gravett believe that it is important for the public to understand the toll that the work on the assembly line floor has on workers.
“Fifteen-dollars-an-hour to build cars sounded like a dream come true when I was first hired,” said Lon Gravett. “But that hourly wage does not come close to covering the long-term medical costs that a lot of people in the factory are facing. How do I put a value on being able to pick up my grand daughter? I can’t.”
Both Ed Hunter and Lon Gravett were featured in early Chattanooga Times Free Press stories on the union organizing drive by local workers: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/apr/18/volkwagen-factory-seen-as-chance-for/
Additionally, both Lon Gravett and Ed Hunter had their injuries and struggles featured in the long-form national report by Mike Elk of In These Times: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16420/the_battle_for_chattanooga_southern_masculinity_and_the_anti_union_campaign
This event is being sponsored by Chattanooga for Workers, Mercy Junction Ministries and Chattanooga Organized for Action.
What: Solidarity Fundraiser for Injured VW Workers
When: Friday, April 18th from 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Where: St. Mark’s Methodist Church, 701 Mississippi Avenue, Chattanooga TN 37405