Chicago autoworkers hit the picket line as part of UAW strike

The Ford Chicago Assembly Plant workers picketed outside Monday, receiving support from drivers passing the plant's entrance.

They said they are committed to staying on the picket line 24 hours a day.

The United Auto Workers strike started Sept. 15 in other states and is now on in Chicago and at a GM plant in Lansing. The plant at 126th Street and Torrence Avenue makes the Lincoln Aviator and Ford Explorer vehicles, employing about 5,000 union workers. The striking workers said they are on their feet for 12-hour shifts and want higher wages and a pension.

UAW Local 551 President Chris Pena said the union is fighting for future workers.

"We are fighting for the new people coming in, to have pensions for all," Pena said. "We want a cost of living allowance, which we gave up during the recession. We had a false promise then that we would be getting it back someday. Well, times haven’t been better. We’re still waiting."

Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said in a statement his company has made a fair offer.

"First, Ford has offered an incredible contract that would change the lives of our 57,000 workers for the better. Secondly, we believe the UAW is holding up the deal over battery plants that won’t come online for another two to three years. Finally, we still have time to reach an agreement and avert a real disaster – but not much time given our fragile supply base."

This is the first time workers here have gone on strike in 50 years. With 5,000 workers impacted, the union said it has the fuel to stay on strike as long as it takes.