UAW’s Fain vows more walk-outs if no progress this week

September 19, 2023

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Monday evening that more union members would walk off the job at noon Friday if no “serious progress” is made in contract negotiations with the Big Three automakers. 

The UAW’s strike began at midnight Friday when contract agreements to cover the UAW’s 145,000 members could not be reached, leading to the first-ever nationwide UAW strike being called simultaneously at all of the Big Three automakers in Detroit. 

Nearly 13,000 UAW members walked out at three plants: General Motors in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellanits in Toledo, Ohio.

Stellantis builds vehicles under the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands for North America. 

In a video message posted on social media Monday evening, Fain explained that the workers were undertaking a “stand-up strike,” in contrast to the “sit-down strikes” of decades past. 

“Instead of striking all plants all at once, select locals will be called on to stand up and walk out on strike,” said Fain. 

He added, “If we don’t make serious progress by noon, on Friday, September 22, more locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike.”

The “Big Three” three automakers have proposed roughly 20% raises over the four-and-a-half year term of their proposed deals, though that is only half of what the UAW is demanding. The UAW at one point during the talks offered to lower its demand to 36%.

The UAW is also asking for shorter work weeks, restored pensions and stronger job security as automakers make the shift to electric vehicles.

Fain said in his video, “Then as now” among the issues that led to UAW strikes in past decades, “our industry is rapidly changing and workers are being left behind.”

Profits at the Big Three collectively increased by about 92% in the last decade, according to analysis released last week from the Economic Policy Institute. CEO pay rose by about 40 percent in the same period.

On Monday, GM CEO Mary Barra defended her $29 million annual salary, saying that 92% of it is based on the company’s performance. Further, she asserted, since GM offers profit sharing to its employees, workers benefit when the company performs well.

In his video message, Fain warned that UAW workers across the country are prepared to strike on short notice if it comes to that. 

“Either the Big Three get down to business and work with us on negotiations, or more locals will be called on to stand up and go out on strike,” Fain vowed.

PHOTO: Fain (center, front) with striking UAW members Monday

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