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GM autoworkers strike: Tennessee couple hits UAW picket line on wedding day

Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 14:38:44-04

SPRING HILL, Tenn. — A wedding day wasn't enough to stop a couple in Spring Hill from joining the United Auto Workers' ongoing nationwide strike against General Motors.

LaCrystal Robertson and Steve Ferguson got married on Saturday, but after their reception, the newlyweds visited one of the protest sites to picket with signs in their wedding attire. Robertson, in her white gown, said it was the right thing to do even if it was around midnight.

It was also a welcomed sight for the other strikers who have been rotating shifts throughout the day.

"That's dedication," Rhonda Oneal, a 22-year GM worker said. "They're a part of us, and we're all a family and that's what we need to stick to."

The couple first met working on the same floor at the GM plant about three years ago, and have become passionate members of UAW. All week long the couple has joined the protest, even on the morning of their wedding day.

"I did my strike duty this morning from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.," Ferguson said. "I figured we can come up here and stand with all our brothers and sisters and stand up for what we believe in."

Of the nearly 50,000 UAW members on strike across the country, about 3,300 of them are from Spring Hill. UAW is demanding improved health care, better job placement for temporary workers and increased wages after a failed contract agreement.

The protests not only strike a chord for Ferguson and his wife, but for his parents. Being a union auto-worker runs in the family for both parents for generations.

"UAW is trying to get a change around health care. It's time to put the chatter away and get it done," Steve Ferguson, Sr. said.

"A lot of the workers gave up a lot of things — pay raises, they cut back on their retirement, and they have no pension now," Sally Ferguson said of a deal UAW struck in the midst of the financial crisis in 2008. "It's time for them [GM] to return those favors back."

The wedding guests, many of whom are GM workers, were not shocked the couple wanted to strike after their wedding ceremony.

"I think it's awesome. They're both team leaders and they take dang good care of their teams," said Kyle Clepper, a repairman for GM.

The couple said while they stand together united as newlyweds, they don't mind living the rest of their lives in solidarity with co-workers they like to call brothers and sisters.

"We've been off all week but we've been up there every day because that's our livelihood, and we're fighting for what is right," Robertson said.

This story was originally published by Matthew Torres on WTVF in Nashville.