United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain announced Friday that the union is expanding its strikes to every General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution facility in the U.S., a significant escalation that comes as the companies continue to reject workers’ demands for major contract improvements.
“We will shut down parts distribution until those two companies come to their senses and come to the table with a serious offer,” Fain said in a video update. “The plants that are already on strike will remain on strike.”
Workers at the newly targeted facilities walked off the job at noon ET.
Workers have walked out of the plant. pic.twitter.com/gNKU5pvljQ— Kalea (Kay-lee) Hall (@bykaleahall) September 22, 2023
For now, Ford will be spared additional walkouts, with Fain pointing to “real progress” with the company at the bargaining table. Fain specifically cited positive developments in the company’s proposals to end wage tiers, convert temp workers to full-time employees after 90 days on the job, and restore cost-of-living adjustments that were suspended more than a decade ago amid the auto industry crisis.
“Ford is showing they’re serious about reaching a deal,” said Fain. “At GM and Stellantis, it’s a different story.”
UAW President Shawn Fain Livestream Update 9/22/23 https://t.co/dyUvZDwAHS— UAW (@UAW) September 22, 2023
The strike expansion comes a week after nearly 13,000 UAW members walked off the job at three GM, Ford, and Stellantis following the expiration of their contracts with the car manufacturers. Survey data shows a majority of the U.S. public supports the UAW strike.
“The public is on our side, and the members of the UAW are ready to stand up,” said Fain. “We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line, from our friends and families all the way up to the president of the United States.”
The UAW is utilizing what it has dubbed a “stand-up strike” strategy, whereby members are called on to walk off the job at selective plants rather than all at once. The union says the tactic will maximize its leverage in contract talks and keep the companies off balance as negotiators push for substantial wage and benefit improvements.
Adjusted for inflation, the average hourly wages of U.S. autoworkers have fallen by 30% over the past two decades. Over the past 10 years, meanwhile, the Big Three automakers have raked in $250 billion in combined profits and dished out billions to shareholders.
The CEOs of the companies have also seen their compensation surge as workers struggle to make ends meet.
Fain said Friday that the UAW “can and will” launch an all-out strike against the Big Three “if our national leadership decides the companies aren’t willing to move.”
“Right now we think we can get there,” the UAW president said. “Stellantis and GM, in particular, are going to need some serious pushing.”
“What’s going on in the auto industry is not unique. It’s pretty much what’s been happening all over the American economy,” Sanders continued. “In the United States today, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, weekly wages for the average American worker are actually $50 a week lower than they were 50 years ago after adjusting for inflation.”
“I am very proud to stand in solidarity with the UAW,” the senator added, “and I will do everything that I can do to make sure they receive a fair contract.”
Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), also expressed support for the UAW’s growing strike.
“UAW workers are striking for all working people,” Saunders said in a statement Friday. “For decades, insatiable corporate greed has driven billionaires to take and take and take from hardworking Americans. It’s never enough for them, and we’re sick of it. Going back to the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, when AFSCME and Dr. King marched with workers for fair pay and justice, we know that strikes can change the world for the better. That is why we stand with UAW in this fight, and we will continue to be by their side until they get the dignity and respect they are owed.”
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