Candlelight vigil held for fallen worker on UAW strike day 8

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Local UAW members gathered Monday night to remember one of their co-workers, killed in a motorcycle crash Friday. Hundreds of UAW 2209 members gathered at GM Fort Wayne Assembly for a candlelight vigil.

Meagan M. Ballard was 29 years old. She had just started working at the Fort Wayne GM plant a couple of months ago as a temporary worker. For the last week, she’s been involved with the UAW strike.

Friday night, she was traveling eastbound on Jefferson Boulevard when an SUV tried to turn southbound onto Liberty Mills Rd. from Jefferson. That’s when the crash happened and killed her.

The Allen County Coroner’s Office said Tuesday Ballard died of blunt force trauma of the head and her death was ruled an accident.

Ballard’s mother, Julia Klug, was at Monday’s vigil in her daughter’s memory.

“I’m overwhelmed and astounded,” she said. “I can feel all the love and generosity and it’s greatly appreciated from our family. We thank them very much from the bottoms of our heart.”

Ballard was a mother of three.

“My daughter was a very caring, loving person,” Klug said. “She helped anybody and everybody. She was a wonderful mother. She put her children foremost above everything else. When she got her job here at GM, she was so excited because she knew it meant better things for her children.”

UAW 2209 Chaplain Michele Buckler said that as a temporary worker, Ballard had all the reason to be invested in the strike. UAW is also at odds with GM over a faster way to provide full wages for new hires, and use of temporary workers.

“That’s another layer of why we’re on strike is to get the temps hired,” said Buckler. “So hopefully this will also show General Motors that ‘hey, if we weren’t out on strike, this is one more tragedy that could have been avoided.'”

There is no evidence to tie the crash to the strike, however.

Monday marks the eighth day of the strike. The UAW leaders have said that some progress has been made, but so far a deal has not been reached with GM. The workers will receive strike pay of $250 dollars a week should they hit the 15 day mark.

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