UAW says Big Three talks not progressing much as latest strike deadline approaches

UAW President Shawn Fain to address union on Friday

United Auto Workers members attend a rally in Detroit, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. The UAW is conducting a strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – Negotiations between the UAW and Detroit’s Big Three automakers have been described as a series of constant conversations that union leaders say aren’t progressing much.

UAW workers have been striking at three facilities since Friday, Sept. 15, and the union has threatened to expand its strikes if both sides don’t make “serious progress” by noon on Friday, Sept. 22. So far, about 13,000 of the union’s 146,000 autoworkers are currently striking using a tactic they call a “stand up strike,” in which more workers and facilities will be asked to join strike efforts as the union deems necessary.

Both parties have agreed to continue negotiations amid the strike, and have reportedly been talking this week. Carmakers have presented counter proposals to the UAW’s demands, but the union has not yet accepted any of the counter offers.

The UAW is seeking a 36% wage increase, an end to wage tiers, pension restoration, cost of living adjustments, and more. In turn, automakers are seeking what they consider a sustainable contract amid their massive investments into the shift to electric vehicles. Autoworkers are particularly concerned about what the shift to electric vehicles will mean for their futures, since fewer workers are required to make those vehicles.

Since last week, strikes have been ongoing at the GM Wentzville Assembly, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, and the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant (final assembly and paint only). This is the first time in history that the UAW has simultaneously struck at Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis.

In response, each of the Big Three automakers have announced temporary layoffs related to the strike. Stellantis is the latest automaker to announce layoffs, with more than 350 workers at three different facilities expected to be out of work as a “consequence of the strike action at the Toledo Assembly Complex.”

Last week, Ford announced that it would temporarily lay off 600 non-striking employees at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. GM said it would be idling its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas, which was expected to put around 2,000 people out of work.

UAW President Shawn Fain issued the following statement in response to the layoffs: “Let’s be clear: If the Big Three decide to lay people off who aren’t on strike, that’s them trying to put the squeeze on our members to settle for less. With their record profits, they don’t have to lay off a single employee. In fact, they could double every autoworker’s pay, not raise car prices, and still rake in billions of dollars.

“Their plan won’t work. The UAW will make sure any worker laid off in the Big Three’s latest attack will not go without an income. We’ll organize one day longer than they can, and go the distance to win economic and social justice at the Big Three.”

Fain said the union is preparing to announce more strikes if negotiations don’t progress by noon on Friday. He is expected to address UAW members at 10 a.m. on Friday via Facebook Live.

Fain took to Twitter (now known as X) after 5 p.m. on Tuesday to share a “quick bargaining update.” He shared a clip from the 2017 film “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” The clip shows Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) honking his horn at Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) before saying “Yo! You about done? Tick tock, m----- f-----!” This is the only post Fain has shared on Twitter since joining in 2019.

More coverage of the 2023 UAW strike can be found here

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.