By Andrew Moran
The United Auto Workers (UAW) is escalating its strike as the Big Three automakers—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis—”still have serious issues to work through,” announced president Shawn Fain.
Speaking in a social media video message to supporters, Mr. Fain announced that the union leadership has decided to bolster its stand-up strikes at 38 parts and distribution facilities across 20 states for GM and Stellantis.
“As promised, we’re expecting to stand up strike in response to the lack of progress in bargaining with General Motors or silliness,” Mr. Fain said. “We will shut down parts distribution until those two companies come to their senses and come to the table with a serious offer.”
The union will not escalate strikes at Ford because the automaker has shown it is “serious about reaching a deal.”
The expanded targeted strikes will occur at noon on Sept. 22. It is estimated that close to 6,000 UAW members are employed at the new targeted strike locations, bringing the total number of people who have walked off the job to more than 18,000.
He encouraged the public, including President Joe Biden, to join the auto workers at the picket lines.
“We invite and encourage everyone who supports our case to join us on the picket line, from our friends and families all the way up to the president of the United States. We invite you to join us in our fight,” he said. “The members who will join a stand-up strike today are living testament to one of the injustices we are fighting against.”
Nearly 13,000 UAW-represented members went on strike after their four-year contract expired at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sept. 14. They are simultaneously picketing at assembly plants belonging to the Detroit Three, the first time in the organization’s 88-year history. They are Ford’s Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV facility in Wayne, Michigan; GM’s plant in Wentzville, Missouri; and Stellantis’ Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio.
Ford, GM, and Stellantis have returned to the bargaining table with counterproposals. The UAW leadership has described them as “unfair” and “trash” because they are below what the union has proposed, including a 40 percent pay raise, a 32-hour work week with 40-hour pay, a restoration of traditional retirement benefits, and a cost of living adjustment.
The Epoch Times has reached out to General Motors and Stellantis for comment.
Politics and Labor
Last week, President Biden announced that he would dispatch two administration officials to Detroit to help with the negotiations—Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling—but the decision was canceled.
President Biden also urged all sides to return to the negotiating table but said that the automakers need to approve fair contracts for the workers.
“Auto companies have seen record profits, including the last few years, because of the extraordinary skill and sacrifices of the UAW workers,” President Biden said in a speech from the White House on Sept. 15. “Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with the workers.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also remarked on the UAW strike, noting that it would be too early to determine how much impact the work stoppages would have on the broader economy.
“I think it’s premature to be making forecasts about what it means for the economy,” she said in an interview with CNBC on Sept. 18. “It would depend very much on how long the strike lasts, and exactly who’s affected by it.”
Many lawmakers in Washington have expressed their support for the UAW’s efforts.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he supports the workers because they have made “major sacrifices for these companies which are immensely profitable.”
“The executives make $20 million plus a year. They have this tiered wage system. I’ve had people on the picket line, who’ve been there five, six years, only making $18 or $19 an hour, and the company is taking them for granted and not rewarding them for their sacrifice,” Mr. Brown told The Epoch Times.
Auto workers have “legitimate complaints with management,” says Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). He hopes that the Big Three will be more flexible with the union workers.
Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.) says that auto workers were there for the auto workers when they were in trouble during the global financial crisis.
“Now it’s time for to be there for the workers,” Ms. Scholten told The Epoch Times.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is putting some of the blame on the federal government, telling The Epoch Times that these companies are being forced to “build something that most Americans don’t want.”
“Anytime the government manipulates a market by forcing products on the market that people don’t want to buy, it’s devastating to the free market system and to our society in general,” Mr. Cramer said. “I just think it’s a bad, bad outcome.”
Auto workers fear that President Biden’s green-energy push could result in fewer workers and less pay since it requires less intensive labor to manufacture electric automobiles and batteries.