UAW strike continues as union boss Shawn Fain demands ‘fair share’

By | September 19, 2023

The auto workers’ strike against Detroit’s Big Three entered its fourth day with no signs of early progress and the threat that the strike could soon spread.

A General Motors spokesman said representatives from the company and the United Auto Workers were continuing negotiations on Monday.

So far, the strike is limited to about 13,000 workers at three plants – one at GM, one at Ford Motor and one at Stellantis. GM warned, however, that 2,000 UAW-represented workers at a Kansas City assembly plant “are expected to be idled as early as early this week” due to supply shortages at a GM plant near St. fair.

Workers at the Kansas City plant build the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4.

Ford on Friday moved to temporarily lay off 600 non-striking workers at its assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, just hours after other employees at the facility walked off the job.

“This layoff is a consequence of the strike in the final assembly and painting departments at the Michigan Assembly Plant because components built by these 600 employees use materials that must be electronically coated for protection,” the company said in a statement Friday. “E-coating is completed in the painting department, which is on strike.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she hopes for a quick resolution and that it is too early to assess the impact of the strike.

“It is premature to make predictions about what this means for the economy. It would depend on how long the strike would last and who would be affected by it,” she said on CNBC.

Experts say the strike could increase the prices of new and used cars and cause a loss of US$5.6 billion in wages and profits for automakers.

UAW worker on Ford layoffs, CEO salaries and automakers’ “family” culture


In a sign of the economic and political potential of a long strike, President Joe Biden will send two senior administration officials to Detroit this week to meet with both sides. Biden has backed the UAW in brief public comments, saying automakers have not fairly shared their record profits with workers.

An administration official said Monday that acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and senior adviser Gene Sperling will not serve as mediators — they will not be at the negotiating table — but will go to Detroit “to help support negotiations for in any way the parties deem to be constructive.” The official was not authorized to discuss private discussions and spoke anonymously.

UAW President Shawn Fain on Sunday rejected an offer from Stellantis – which owns Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and RAM, along with major foreign brands including Citroën, Peugeot and Maserati – to raise its workers’ wages by 21% annually. over four years.

Ford and GM also each offered a pay raise of about 20%. The union is asking for a 36% raise over a four-year contract.

The union also wants the Big Three automakers to eliminate their two-tier wage model, which leaves many workers earning less than the average wage of $32 an hour; offer defined benefit pensions to all employees; limit the use of temporary workers; offer a four-day work week; and provide greater employment protections, including the right to strike in the event of factory closures.

“Our demands are fair” Fain said on “Face the Nation.” “We are asking for our fair share of this economy and the fruits of our labor.”

UAW President Shawn Fain says 21% pay raise offered by Chrysler parent Stellantis is ‘impossible’


Rather than launch an all-out strike by its 146,000 members, the union chose to target three factories a plan that could make the union’s $825 million strike fund last longer. Workers walked out of a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant near Detroit and a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, which makes Jeeps.

A key feature of the UAW’s strategy is the threat of strike escalation if the union is dissatisfied with the pace of bargaining. On Friday, Fain said more factories could be attacked: “It could be in a day, it could be in a week.”

Strategically, targeting three factories “certainly created more uncertainty,” said Harry Katz, the Jack Sheinkman Professor of Collective Bargaining at Cornell University. told CBS Newsadding that Fain is signaling that “he is a tough, militant guy who will not agree to concessions.”

The UAW “will get a strong agreement — it’s a matter of how and when they reach an agreement,” Katz predicted.

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