United Auto Workers or UAW members have started their Stand Up Strike at three key plants of Detroit’s Big Three as the deadline passed for automakers to reach deals with the workers.
Just after midnight Friday, the union said in a post on X, “The UAW Stand Up Strike begins at all three of the Big Three,” that is, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.
The Strike started as talks between the union and companies’ management failed to agree on contract terms and pay before the expiration of the four-year collective bargain agreement on Thursday midnight.
One each plant of Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, have been affected with the strike that started after the Thursday night deadline. These selected plants reportedly produce highly profitable vehicles that continue to be in high demand.
Meanwhile, Ford said on Thursday said the UAW presented its first substantive counterproposal a few hours from the expiration of the previous agreement that showed little movement from the union’s initial demands submitted on August 3.
Ford said, “If implemented, the proposal would more than double Ford’s current UAW-related labor costs, which are already significantly higher than the labor costs of Tesla, Toyota and other foreign-owned automakers in the United States that utilize non-union-represented labor.”
Meanwhile, The White House reportedly said President Joe Biden got involved in the matter by late Thursday, and talked with UAW President Shawn Fain and the leaders of the automakers.
UAW said its about 12,700 workers are on walkout at GM Wentzville Assembly, Local 2250 in Region 4, Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, Local 12 in Region 2B, as well as Ford Michigan Assembly Plant – Final Assembly and Paint, Local 900 in Region 1A. Among the total striking employees, 3,300 are at Ford, 3,600 at GM and 5,800 at Stellantis.
On a combined basis, the union represents about 146,000 workers across the at Big Three.
In a statement, UAW said, “This fight is our generation’s defining moment. Not just at the Big Three, but across the entire working class.”
Fain said the new strategy of “stand-up” strike is for getting their share of economic and social justice, and will be out until they get it no matter how long it takes.
The union’s major demands to the automakers include an immediate 20 percent wage increase followed by four annual 5 percent wage hikes, defined-benefit pensions, a reduced 32-hour workweek, and cost-of-living adjustments.
Ford last week announced that it has raised the pay of 8,000 US hourly workers represented by the UAW union just a week before its union contract expires.
In a last minute attempt to avoid the strike, GM reportedly had offered the UAW members a sweetened deal on Thursday that includes 20% wage increases, more vacation days and better benefits for retirees, among others. GM CEO Mary Barra called their proposal as compelling and unprecedented that reflects the significance of then critical moment.
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