After the union and the automakers were unable to come to an agreement on a new labor contract Thursday night, thousands of United Auto Workers employees at three General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis manufacturing factories in the United States went on strike.
Just after midnight on Friday, the union announced in a message on X, the website now known as Twitter, “The UAW Stand Up Strike begins at all three of the Big Three.”
These factories are located in Wentzville, Missouri for GM’s midsize truck and full-size van production, Wayne, Michigan for Ford’s Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV production, Toledo, Ohio for Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator production. Only those employed in paint and final assembly at Ford, according to UAW President Shawn Fain, will go on strike.
Fain said outside the Wayne Ford site, “We got to do what we got to do to get our share of economic and social justice in this strike.” “We’ll remain here until we receive our fair share of economic justice. Additionally, it is irrelevant how long it takes.
For the manufacturers, the chosen plants create very lucrative, still-in-high-demand vehicles. The union estimated that 12,700 workers across the three plants—5,800 at Stellantis, 3,600 at GM, and 3,300 at Ford—will be on strike. About 146,000 employees from Ford, GM, and Stellantis are represented by the UAW.
The automakers, to whom Fain was referring, “if they come to the pump and they take care of their workers, we’ll be back to work,” he said early on Friday. But if they don’t, we’ll keep ratcheting up the pressure.
The union chose the plants as part of targeted strike plans that Fain, who has unconventionally been negotiating with all three automakers at once and has been reluctant to yield much on the union’s demands, initially stated Wednesday night.
Just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, Fain made a statement that was live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. “For the first time in our history, we will strike all three of the ‘Big Three’ at once,” he declared. “We’re employing a new tactic called a’stand-up’ strike. We will issue a strike call to a few facilities, communities, or units.
Fain has referred to the union’s proposals as a “stand-up strike,” paying homage to the UAW’s illustrious “sit-down” strikes of the 1930s.
In addition to other items on the table like improved retiree benefits, improved vacation and family leave benefits, the union’s key proposals have included 40% hourly pay increases, a reduced 32-hour work week, a return to traditional pensions, the elimination of compensation tiers, and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
Even after President Joe Biden got involved, it became apparent late on Thursday that there would not be a settlement. According to the White House, Biden, who brags about his working-class upbringing and commitment to organized labor, spoke with Fain and the executives of the Detroit automakers.
The UAW provided its “first substantive counterproposal” to four of the company’s offers, according to a statement from Ford on Thursday night, but it “showed little movement from the union’s initial demands.”
According to Ford, the proposal would more than treble its current UAW-related labor expenses, which are already considerably higher than those of Tesla, Toyota, and other foreign-owned manufacturers operating in the US and using non-unionized employees. “The union made it clear that it plans a work stoppage for 11:59 p.m. Eastern unless we agree to its unfeasible terms.”
Record-breaking bids from the automakers have addressed some but not all of the UAW’s lofty requests. In particular, the companies have proposed COLA, changed profit-sharing bonuses, 20% salary hikes, and improved vacation and family leave benefits, all of which the union has deemed insufficient.
Targeted attacks frequently concentrate on important plants, which might force other plants to stop producing when they run out of parts. Although they are not uncommon, Fain’s proposed method of conducting the work stops is unusual. Initiating targeted strikes at particular plants is one of them, with the possibility of increasing the number of strikes later on depending on how the negotiations are doing. It is also unusual for such strikes to pick assembly plants.
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