UAW To Expand Strike At Ford And GM

Labor supporters and members of the United Auto Workers union (UAW) Local 230 march along a picket line during a strike outside of the Stellantis Chrysler Los Angeles Parts Distribution Center in Ontario, California, on September 26. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

By Chris Isidore, CNN

New York (CNN) — The United Auto Workers union is expanding its strike to additional facilities of automakers Ford and GM, the UAW head said on Friday, adding that additional Stellantis members will not be called to go on strike.

The new facilities that will go on strike at noon, he said, are Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant and GM’s Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan.

“We knew it was unlikely this was going to be quick,” Fain said on a livestreamed update. But, he said, “We’re excited about this momentum at Stellantis and hope it continues.”

UAW President Shawn Fain said that Ford and GM have not made enough progress in meeting union demands, despite a strike that has gone on for 15 days. He called for the strike expansion to turn up the pressure at the bargaining table.

“To be clear, negotiations have not broken down,” Fain said. “We’re still talking with all three companies. and I’m still very hopeful we can reach a deal that reflects the incredible sacrifices and contributions that our members have made over the last decade.”

While the union has been on strike against all three unionized automakers for the first time in its history, the UAW started the walkouts on September 15 with a targeted work stoppage by 12,700 members at one assembly plant for each company.

A week ago it added a series of 38 parts and distribution centers operated in 20 states by GM and Stellantis but did not expand the strike at Ford, saying that automaker had made significant progress in negotiations.

As of noon Friday, there will be more than 25,000 UAW workers on strike, as Fain has called on an additional 7,000 members across Ford and GM to go on strike.

The new facilities make the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.

Those four family SUVs represent the bread and butter of the two companies’ lineups. While they aren’t the high-profit, high-volume sellers that the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado pickups represent, the production halt will be a challenge to Ford and GM’s bottom lines.

The three companies are on record each offering the union an immediate raise of at least 10% for the 145,000 UAW members at the companies and another 10 percentage points of general wage increases over the life of the proposed deal, which is due to run through spring of 2028.

But the union is seeking significantly larger wage increases as well as improved pension and health care benefits, reversing concessions in 2007 and 2009 when the automakers were all facing financial distress and both GM and Stellantis predecessor Chrysler were on their way to bankruptcy and federal bailout.

Now the companies are earning record or near record profits, and the union is demanding “record contracts.”

The expansion of the strike comes three days after President Joe Biden became the first sitting president to visit a picket line. He told members that they deserved more than they’re being paid and urged them to stay strong in their demands.

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