UAW president gives update Friday just before noon deadline imposed on Big Three

United Auto Workers march outside the Stellantis North American Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, in Auburn Hills, Mich. General Motors and Stellantis announced fresh layoffs Wednesday that they blamed on damage from the United Auto Workers strike, and the labor standoff grew more tense just two days before the union was expected to call for new walkouts. UAW President Shawn Fain said layoffs were unnecessary and an effort to pressure workers to settle for less in contract negotiations. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – The president of the United Auto Workers union is scheduled to address members Friday morning, two hours before the union’s latest negotiation deadline set for Detroit’s Big Three that could lead to a bigger strike.

UAW President Shawn Fain is hosting a live social media update at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 22. This live stream has ended.

Here’s what you missed: UAW strike expands to 38 US facilities as tense Big Three talks continue

The update comes just hours before the noon deadline the union imposed on Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Stellantis in an effort to speed up talks. Negotiations have continued this week after both sides failed to reach an agreement by their Sept. 14 contract deadline, prompting the union to initiate a strike.

Though a strike was called against each of the Big Three, the union is taking a targeted strike approach rather than striking at every facility at once. About 13,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 auto workers began striking on Sept. 15 at three facilities: the GM Wentzville Assembly, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, and the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant (final assembly and paint only).

However, Fain threatened earlier this week that more UAW workers would be asked to join the strike if their talks with automakers don’t make “serious progress” by noon on Friday. It’s unknown just how many workers would be asked to join the strike, though Fain could clarify that in his Friday morning update.

If the strike is expanded, those already on strike will continue striking, Fain said.

Ford, GM and Stellantis have each proposed counter offers to the union’s aggressive list of demands, both before and during the strike. But so far, none of the counters have satisfied the union, which is seeking a significant wage increase, an end to tiered wages, pension restoration, cost of living adjustments, and other benefits.

Fain has indicated that the union is willing to be flexible on its demands in order to reach a deal. The UAW was initially demanding a more than 40% wage increase, and has since dropped it to a 36% increase. Automakers have upped their wage increase percentages following their initial counter proposals, but not close enough for the union to accept.

Both sides agreed to resume negotiations after the strike began, and talks have continued throughout the week. The carmakers have shown interest in continuing talks “in good faith” and getting workers back on the job soon. The union also wishes to reach a deal, but has been pressing the Big Three all week, saying talks still aren’t making progress quickly enough.

Without word of an agreement between the sides, it’s likely the UAW will expand its strike this week.

Ford, GM and Stellantis have each announced temporary layoffs amid the strike, creating even more tension between them and the UAW.

“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,” Fain said last week. “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.”

The UAW calculates that the Big Three made a combined total of $21 billion in profit in the first half of 2023, and a combined $250 billion in American profits in the last 10 years. In comparison, Fain says employee wages have increased just 6% over the last four years.

More coverage of the 2023 UAW strike can be found here

About the Author:

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