Contract negotiations fell short
The union had been negotiating with all three automakers simultaneously, in a break from previous rounds of contract talks.
Leaders on both sides have publicly alleged that their counterparts across the table weren’t talking talks seriously.
Striking three companies at once a first for UAW
Never before in the union’s 88-year history have its members been on strike with all three of the Big Three companies at the same time.
In what UAW president Fain is calling a “stand-up strike,” about 13,000 workers at three plants in Missouri, Michigan and Missouri are the first to walk off.
Why those three sites?
In picking the first three sites to strike, the union didn’t go after the companies’ big cash cows, which are full-size pickups and big SUVs, and went more for plants that make vehicles with lower profit margins, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
“They want to give the companies some space without putting them up against the wall,” Masters said. “They’re not putting them right into the corner. You put an animal in the corner and it’s dangerous.”
About the first plants set to strike
GM’s Wentzville Assembly plant (Local 2250, Region 4) and has about 3,600 members. It produces Chevrolet Colorado and Express; and GMC Canyon and Savana.
In Toledo, Ohio, about 5,800 members at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, (Local 12, Region 2B) will walk off. They make the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator.
The Ford Michigan Assembly Plant — Final Assembly and Paint, (Local 900, Region 1A) in Wayne, Michigan, has about 3,300 members. It produces the Ford Ranger and Bronco.
The UAW strike is officially on
The United Auto Workers union (UAW) is officially walking off the job after failing to reach agreements on a new contract with Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler-maker Stellantis.
This marks the first time the union members have gone on strike since its now-expired contract was ratified in 2019.
Whitmer says both sides should be looking for wins
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has autos top of mind.
She spent part of today at the Detroit Auto Show, checking out new makes and models.
But she said her office has been in touch with the UAW and the Big Three automakers for the last month and a half about labor negotiations.
She said they need to come to an agreement that works for all parties. It’s possible to reach a deal that benefits both the UAW and the Big Three, she said.
Whitmer said she has been in contact with President Joe Biden and federal officials regularly about the possible strike and contract negotiations.
Ford says it’s got future of workers — and company — in mind
As the threat of a UAW walkout grew nearer, Ford said it was doing its part to avoid a strike.
“Ford has bargained in good faith in an effort to avoid a strike, which could have wide-ranging consequences for our business and the economy. It also impacts the very 57,000 UAW-Ford workers we are trying to reward with this contract,” it said in a statement late tonight.
It said it had employees and the future top of mind in the negotiations.
“Ford remains absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards our employees and protects Ford’s ability to invest in the future as we move through industry-wide transformation,” the statement said.
Starting small would let UAW stretch its strike fund
Estimates have projected that the union’s $825 million fund, designed to pay eligible workers $500 a week while picketing, would support a strike of up to 11 weeks by its 146,000 members at all three automakers.
By targeting just one plant at each of the Big Three at first, the UAW could make that money go further.
It would need to distribute strike pay to just the 12,700 workers at the three chosen sites initially.
Walkouts set for three sites in three states
Fain said three units, one at each of the three manufacturers, would be the first to picket, starting at midnight.
Those sites are:
- GM: Wentzville, Missouri, Assembly Plant
- Stellantis: Toledo, Ohio, Assembly Plant
- Ford: Wayne, Michigan, Assembly Plant — Final Assembly & Paint
The UAW plans a major rally for downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon.
With clock ticking, UAW makes plans to walk
Two hours before the deadline, Fain told members to be prepared to strike.
“We will strike all three of the Big Three at once,” he said, adding that negotiations continue and a deal could still be reached before midnight.
Biden in touch with UAW and auto companies
Hours before the deadline, the White House said President Joe Biden had been in touch with UAW President Shawn Fain, as well as leaders of the major auto companies, to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations.
The White House says the administration has been monitoring the economic implications of a possible strike.
Tense negotiations led to accusations from both sides
The UAW late last month filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing GM and Stellantis of failing to bargain in good faith and in a timely fashion.
The automakers have denied the accusations.
Automakers push back
Ford, GM and Stellantis have said they negotiated in good faith and have pushed back against union demands they say are excessive — in some cases warning that big pay hikes could cut into investments needed to make the transition to electric vehicles.
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