At 11PM on September 14, just before midnight, a crowd of United Auto Workers members and their supporters began amassing across the street from Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. A stream of honking cars had already begun exiting the factory gates. Outside the UAW Local 900 union hall, which sits adjacent to the assembly plant, white shuttle vans were humming at the ready—and before long, the picket lines were up.
At midnight, it was official: for the first time in the union’s history, UAW workers at each of the Big Three automakers—Ford, GM, and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler)—were striking simultaneously. The union’s new strategy of “stand up” strikes, whereby select locals are gradually called out to strike at their plants, had gone into effect. Two hours prior, at 10pm on a Facebook livestream, UAW President Shawn Fain had announced the union’s first targets.
Just under 13,000 workers have walked off the job so far, disrupting truck and SUV production at Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, and the final assembly and paint departments of Ford’s Michigan Assembly. Thousands more workers are staying home, with more expected to join them, after GM temporarily laid off 2,000 employees at its Kansas assembly plant following layoffs of smaller groups of workers at Ford and Stellantis.
The UAW’s new, more militant union leadership had been warning the Big Three for months that a strike was coming if a tentative agreement was not reached before the previous contracts expired on Sept. 14. Nevertheless, those threats prompted little movement from the companies at the bargaining table, as evidenced by their austere contract proposals.
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