After failing to reach labor agreements with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the United Auto Workers began a strike against the Big Three automakers Friday.
During a Facebook Live event Thursday night, UAW President Shawn Fain directed three local unions to walk off the job at midnight as part of the UAW’s stand-up strike:
- Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, final assembly and paint only, Local 900, Region 1a.
- GM Wentzville Assembly Center in Wentzville, Missouri, Local 2250, Region 4.
- Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio, Local 12, Region 2b.
Other UAW workers will continue working on an expired contract.
“All options remain on the table,” Fain said Thursday night. “National leadership will determine the appropriate targets and timing for further stand-up strike action.”
UAW members and their supporters will rally Friday at the UAW-Ford Joint Trusts Center in Detroit at 4 p.m.
“This strategy will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining,” Fain said. “If we need to go all out, we will.”
Amid the auto industry’s electric vehicle transition, the United Auto Workers union is demanding cost-of-living adjustments, retiree benefit improvements, more paid time off, the ability to strike against plant closures, an end to tiered wages and benefits, and the return of defined benefit pensions and retiree healthcare.
But negotiations have been tense, with UAW members employed by GM, Ford and Stellantis overwhelmingly voting to authorize a strike if the sides couldn’t make a deal by the time the union’s 4-year labor agreements with the Big Three automakers expire on Sept. 14.
A few days later, the UAW accused GM and Stellantis of unfair labor practices, filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over its contract talks with the two automakers. However, it did not file a complaint against Ford.
Over the span of the last two months, the Big Three have offered several proposals, which were met with sharp rebukes by UAW President Shawn Fain.
Since last week, the three automakers each proposed higher wage increases that are still far below the 36% raise the UAW is seeking:
- Ford increased its offer from 9% to 20% over four and a half years.
- GM increased its offer from 10% to 20% over four and a half years.
- Stellantis increased its offer from 14.5% to 17.5% over four and a half year.
Fain provided an update on Wednesday about the union’s negotiations with the Big Three, noting that the parties have made some progress. But he accused Ford CEO Jim Farley of making false statements about the automaker’s offer to the UAW.
“I find it funny and sad that Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford, told the press last night at the auto show that Ford had offered the elimination of tiers. That’s not true,” Fain said. “Tiers remain at Ford under their proposal.”
CNBC reported Wednesday night that Farley disputed Fain’s characterization of the automaker’s negotiations with the UAW at the Detroit Auto Show.
“We’re here, we’re ready to negotiate, but it’s sure hard to negotiate a contract when there’s no one to negotiate with,” Farley said. “We have time left, but it’s hard to negotiate when you don’t get any feedback back.”
During a Facebook Live event on Sept. 13, Fain said the UAW would strike against any or all Big Three automakers if they cannot reach a labor agreement by Sept. 14, ruling out an extension of the negotiations. He said all the proposals from GM, Ford and Stellantis offer significantly less generous wages and benefits than the UAW is demanding.
“I want to be clear. We want a deal. We’re ready for a deal,” Fain said during a Facebook Live event Sep. 8. But “we aren’t going to lay down and take whatever scraps they give us.”
UAW members could strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis simultaneously. However, the union plans to ask specific local chapters to strike, depending on how the negotiations proceed, rather than all of them at once.
The union made several labor concessions following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler — now part of Stellantis. But the Big Three automakers made almost $250 billion in profits from 2013 to 2022, according to the UAW. Now, autoworkers want a larger slice of that pie and are prepared to strike to get what they want.