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Troy Friday
Troy Friday

Troy Friday has been a UAW Local 5286 member for seven years – or, as he says, “since Day One” in 2003 when members of Freightliner LLC’s Gastonia, N.C., facility became union with card-check recognition. The local’s nearly 500 members make heavy truck parts for the company. Over the past two years, Friday, 44, a temporary organizer, has worked on the Thomas Built Bus campaign in High Point, N.C., and the Volvo Mack organizing drive in Greensboro, N.C. Friday, chair of the local’s education committee, lives in Gastonia with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Ashley.

Why are you so passionate about saving jobs and keeping them in the United States?

“Because North Carolina used to be the home of two major industries – textiles and furniture – that provided people with good jobs and benefits, and now they’re gone. With the passage of NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], the companies moved oversees and now we’ve got 25 to 30 huge textile mills sitting idle. Neither industry was union, and the companies still made the decision to leave this country.”

What do you think should be done?

“We need trade reform to help level the playing field. Outsourcing has affected so many jobs that it’s killing this country. I’m pleased with what President Obama has done so far, and I pray he’ll make revisions to the NAFTA treaty.”

What do you say to people who claim being a union member doesn’t matter?

“For me, this is my livelihood. We’re supposed to call each other brother and sister. Even the Bible says that we’re to be our brother’s keeper. So we have to continue the tradition … keep the baton going. We have a lot of people in the workforce who didn’t endure any real hardships, and they take things for granted. I take every opportunity to educate people and to remind them that everything we fought for, we must keep fighting for.”

Jennifer John