UAW Escalates Strike with Little Notice to Major Automakers

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is shifting its strategy amid its ongoing strike against the Big Three automakers, as union President Shawn Fain announced last Friday.

“We are prepared at any time to call on more locals to stand up and walk out,” Fain voiced during a webcast about the UAW’s month-long strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. “Going forward, we will be calling out plants when we need to, with little notice.”

The union is moving away from its practice of announcing new strike targets on Fridays. According to Fain, the automakers had gotten into the habit of waiting until the end of the workweek to make any significant offers.

UAW President Shawn Fain Extends Auto Worker Strike with Minimal Notice

This new tactic was evident earlier in the week when UAW intensified its walkout on Wednesday by halting operations at Ford’s largest factory in Louisville, Kentucky. About 8,700 members vacated their jobs, bringing the total number of workers on strike against the three car manufacturers to roughly 34,000.

“For two weeks, Ford has been tell us there is more money to be had,” but delivered the same economic offer to UAW negotiators on Wednesday, triggering the strike action at the Kentucky plant that day. “We didn’t wait until Friday and we didn’t wait a minute,” Fain remarked.

The strike at the truck plant, which manufactures the Super Duty pickup, Lincoln Navigator, and Ford Expedition large SUVs, caught the automaker off guard. This lineup represents the company’s most lucrative products, generating $25 billion a year in revenue.

Ford has stated that it cannot improve its offer of a 23% pay increase without jeopardizing its ability to invest in its business. The Ford plant in Kentucky rakes in $48,000 in revenue every 60 seconds, or “vastly more than the lowest paid Ford workers make in a year,” as pointed out by Fain.

Last week, Fain disclosed that Ford’s proposal included the 23% hike, which is higher than the 20% offers from General Motors and Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent.

Active negotiations are underway with GM and Stellantis, the union leader informed, lashing out at Ford for its statement on Thursday that it had maxed out its offer. “I found a pathetic irony in that statement,” Fain expressed, emphasizing that it’s the workers who are frustrated by not receiving raises for a decade and losing what he termed retirement security.

The UAW initiated its strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis on September 15, with workers walking off at one assembly plant from each automaker. At present, about 34,000 workers are striking at six assembly plants and 38 parts-distribution centers. This strike marks the first in UAW’s nearly nine decades that targets all three carmakers simultaneously.

“The longer our strike goes on, the more the public turns against corporate greed at the Big Three,” Fain noted, citing a recent poll from the Associated Press indicating that only 9% of Americans support the automakers.

Last week, UAW reported progress in the bargaining and chose not to extend the strike to additional plants. This followed GM’s agreement to incorporate joint-venture electric vehicle battery factories into the national master contract, virtually ensuring unionization of the plants. This issue is vital to the union as it aims to shield workers displaced as the industry shifts to electric vehicles.

With information from CBS News

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