UAW strikes against Detroit carmakers will happen without contracts

on Sep14
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UAW president on auto strike: A lot of work to do in 48 hours

The United Auto Workers union will strike against the Detroit automakers if the sides don’t reach labor deals by an 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday deadline, UAW President Shawn Fain said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Fain’s comments came the morning after he outlined plans to local union leaders about implementing targeted strikes at certain General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis plants, if agreements aren’t reached by Thursday.

“As it stands right now, all three are most likely to be struck unless we get a deal by Sept. 14 at midnight,” Fain said Wednesday to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau when asked whether Ford is the less likely to be struck. “All three are expected to deliver for their workers and if they don’t, there will be action.”

Targeted strikes refer to work stoppages only at certain plants, related to local contract issues that many, if not most, facilities have. That differs from national strikes where all union members exit plants, which occurred four years ago during the last round of negotiations with GM.

Fain said the UAW and automakers “have a lot of work” to do, but he believes the sides can reach contracts before the deadline.

“We can get there, but the companies need to get serious and buckle down,” he said.

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain greets workers at the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, to mark the beginning of contract negotiations in Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S. July 12, 2023. 

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Fain said Wednesday the union continues to seek double-digit wage increases. The UAW most recently sought 36% hikes – down from initial demands of 40%. The union’s raise proposals to the automakers have not fallen below 30%, he said.

Key demands from the union have included 40% hourly pay increases, a reduced 32-hour work week, a shift back to traditional pensions, the elimination of compensation tiers and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, among other items on the table.

Ford CEO Jim Farley said late Tuesday night the company remains “optimistic that we can reach an agreement with the UAW in the next two days.”

However, he said there are limits to what Ford is willing to offer.

Farley said the company’s latest offer includes “pay increases, elimination of tiers, inflation protection, five weeks of vacation, 17 paid holidays [and] bigger contributions for retirement.”

“We put an offer in today that’s our most generous offer in 80 years of the UAW and Ford,” Farley said during the reveal of the 2024 Ford F-150 in Detroit. “It’s a significant enhancement, still optimistic that we’ll get a deal. But there is a limit because we have to protect for the future, future investments and the profitability of the company funds those.”

Farley said Ford is “not going to support” a four-day workweek.

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