Three hundred workers represented by the United Auto Workers union walked off the job in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sept. 12, as the People’s Weekly World went to press. The workers who walked out are employed at Chrysler’s technical operations center at the site of the company’s headquarters.

At 12 noon the workers were gathering in front of the main office tower of the Chrysler’s Auburn Hills compound just outside of Detroit. They were waiting for the leadership of UAW Local 142 to speak to them. A spokesman for the union local said the workers were being provided with hot dogs and boxed lunches.

The spokesman said the purpose of the walkout was to protest the slow pace of contract negotiations and any potential outsourcing of jobs held by UAW Local 412 members

The Big Three auto companies and the UAW began contract negotiations in July and their contract is set to expire Friday, Sept. 14.

Although the negotiations are not held in public or open to the media, sources say that health care costs are a key issue, with the automakers seeking to shift responsibility for benefits from themselves to the UAW.

The union local involved in the walkout is one of the largest UAW locals in the country and has a diverse membership that includes salaried, hourly, skilled trades and public sector employees. Members of the local include automotive engineers and designers in both the auto and defense industries, and even attorneys in the public sector. The local has more than 5,000 members.