U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), center, attends a “Solidarity Sunday” rally with UAW workers on Aug. 20, 2023. | Photo courtesy of Dingell’s office
As the clock ticks on a possible strike, hundreds of United Auto Workers (UAW) members gathered for a rally in Warren on Sunday.
The rally, called “Solidarity Sunday,” included elected officials and UAW President Shawn Fain. It took place as contract negotiations with the Detroit Three approaches a Sept. 14 deadline. Some participants wore t-shirts that read: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” and “Same shift, different day.”
U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) attended the rally held at UAW Region 1’s headquarters.
During the rally, Stevens called the UAW “the backbone of the automotive industry.”
“So what are we asking for? A fair contract,” Stevens said. Her comment was met with large applause.
Fain praised Dingell’s support for Michigan’s auto workers.
“She’s a voice for us and always has been,” he said.
Fain and Dingell then high-fived each other. He encouraged UAW members to vote for strike authorization against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The UAW leader described the current status of negotiations as a “defining moment.”
The union is fighting for increased wages, a 32-hour work week and better pension benefits, among other asks.
“We’ve seen these corporations realize record profits while at the same time we’re going backwards,” Fain said about his members.
Strike votes by union members will be collected by the end of the day on Thursday.
In a statement, President Joe Biden, a longtime labor supporter, emphasized the need for auto companies to transition to a clean-energy industry while maintaining a high standard of treatment for workers. He said he expects both the UAW and the companies to collaborate on a new contract that protects wages and benefits while keeping the corporations competitive.
“As the Big Three auto companies and the United Auto Workers come together — one month before the expiration of their contract — to negotiate a new agreement, I want to be clear about where I stand,” Biden said. “I’m asking all sides to work together to forge a fair agreement.”
Ford Motor Co. spokesperson Kelli Felker said in a recent email to the Michigan Advance that the company is proud of its UAW history and is eager to negotiate new contracts.
“Ford is proud to build more vehicles in America and employ more UAW-represented hourly workers in America than any other automaker,” Felker said. “We look forward to working with the UAW on creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changing industry needs a skilled and competitive workforce more than ever.”
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