According to a new report, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is threatening to escalate strikes to include even more plants if negotiations with Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis don’t progress this week.
The UAW plans to announce an additional round of escalated strikes this Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern if substantial progress is not made in contract negotiations, according to a person familiar with the matter in a CNBC report. The news comes just after U.S. President Joe Biden visited a Michigan picket line in support of striking UAW workers this week and ahead of a Wednesday night event former President Donald Trump will hold at a nearby auto facility.
UAW President Shawn Fain is expected to follow last week’s announcement on Friday by hosting a Facebook Live event to disclose which plants will be targeted in updated strikes. Workers will then be expected to walk off the job at noon at those sites. If additional strikes are announced, it would represent the second wave of expanded strikes since previous contracts ended on September 14, with initial strikes beginning the following day.
Last Friday, the UAW expanded strikes to include an additional 38 Stellantis and GM auto parts and distribution centers, sparing Ford further strikes due to some contract demands being met. Despite avoiding increased strikes, Ford said there were still “significant gaps to close” in contract negotiations with the UAW in a statement on Monday.
The UAW is referring to the labor movement as the “stand-up strikes,” alluding to the “sit-down” strikes lodged by the union during the 1930s.
President Biden visited a picket line at a GM Redistribution Center in Bellville on Tuesday, saying that he thought UAW workers deserved the 40-percent wage increase the union is calling for. Trump’s visit is expected to be with current and retired UAW workers at Drake Enterprises, a nearby auto plant that the UAW does not represent.
The strikes include around 18,300 workers across 20 U.S. states, representing 12.5 percent of the UAW’s 146,000 members. The strikes have already had ripple effects across the auto industry, forcing some non-striking factories to shut down due to associated parts supply issues and a lack of available work.
Ford paused construction on a battery plant for electric vehicles (EVs) in Michigan on Monday, and GM shut down an auto plant in Kansas last week, laying off 2,000 employees without unemployment benefits.
The UAW’s contract demands include the following:
- 40-percent wage increase over four years
- 32-hour work weeks
- Elimination of tiered wage systems requiring years to reach top wages
- Restoration of traditional pension plans
- Restoration of wage cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA)
- Additional improved benefits including vacation, retirement and family leave
The strikes put non-unionized EV maker Tesla in a unique position, and some think the circumstances could significantly benefit the Elon Musk-led company amidst the global transition to EVs. Musk shared his thoughts on some of the UAW’s demands earlier this week, saying he thought a 40-percent wage increase and a 32-hour work week would be a “sure way to drive GM, Ford and Chrysler bankrupt in the fast lane.”