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‘Get strike ready’: UAW votes to authorize strike against Detroit automakers

By: - August 25, 2023 1:16 pm

UAW workers rally for a new contract at the labor organization’s Region 1 headquarters on Aug. 20, 2023. | UAW photo

The United Auto Workers at Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers announced Friday the union has authorized a strike amid unsuccessful contract negotiations.

With the current count of votes for members at Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis reaching 97% approval of authorizing a strike, members “have the power, and are united and unafraid,” UAW International President Shawn Fain said over Facebook Live Friday. The vote does not guarantee a strike, but rather UAW members have given the go-ahead for it to occur if the union and the auto companies cannot reach a deal on new labor contracts.

UAW President Shawn Fain at the labor organization’s Region 1 headquarters on Aug. 20, 2023. | UAW photo

UAW members are demanding 32-hour work weeks, cost-of-living wage adjustments and a 46% raise over four years, as well as strengthening benefits like pensions, retirement medical benefits and paid time off. 

Ford, GM and Stellantis issued statements Friday.

“Ford is proud to build more vehicles in America and employ more UAW-represented hourly workers in America than any other automaker. 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,” the Ford statement says.

“We continue to work hard with the UAW every day and bargain in good faith to ensure we get this agreement right for our team members, our customers, suppliers, the community and the business,” the GM statement said.

“The discussions between the company and the UAW’s bargaining team continue to be constructive and collaborative with a focus on reaching a new agreement that balances the concerns of our 43,000 employees with our vision for the future – one that better positions the business to meet the challenges of the U.S. marketplace and secures the future for all of our employees, their families and our company,” the Stellantis statement said.

Last week President Joe Biden released a statement imploring “all sides to work together to forge a fair agreement.”

“The UAW helped create the American middle class, and as we move forward in this transition to new technologies, the UAW deserves a contract that sustains the middle class,” Biden said.

Ahead of potential UAW strike, Biden calls for cooperation in union negotiations

The Facebook post from the UAW announced the strike authorization vote reads, “Get strike ready.” Though the goal for UAW is to reach an agreement with the large automakers, union members are ready, Fain said. He warned members that their employers may use scare tactics and say they’ll move jobs out of the country, but the union president said those automakers are only trying to keep workers from using the power they hold. Fain also cautioned there may be public outcry against workers.

“Just ask our union family on strike at the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild what they think. You think employers across the country want to see our union create the threat of a good example for other workers?” Fain said. “The truth is they want us to believe we are powerless…They want us to be scared to take a risk.”

The nearly 150,000 UAW autoworkers’ contracts expire on Sept. 14, which is when “the Big Three’s race to the bottom ends,” Fain said.

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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