The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis has entered a new phase as the union’s president Shawn Fain announced that further walkouts could come at any time, not just on Fridays as they had in the first few weeks of the strike.
UAW changes the rules of the game
Fain, who took the helm of the union in June, has been described as a “fighter” and is known for his aggressive stance on workers’ rights and benefits. He said the UAW decided to change the rules of the game after meeting with Ford’s negotiating team at its headquarters on Wednesday.
According to Fain, Ford refused to offer more in its latest proposal, so the union called for the 8,700 workers employed at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville to walk out. The plant produces some of Ford’s most profitable vehicles, such as the F-Series Super Duty pickup trucks and the Expedition SUVs.
“We’re not messing around,” Fain told union members. “A negotiation requires both sides making movement. If they’re not ready to move, then we’re going to give them a push in a language they understand. Dollars and cents.”
Ford condemns the surprise strike
Ford condemned the surprise strike at its Kentucky plant, saying it was “disappointed” and “frustrated” by the union’s action. The automaker said it had offered a “fair and competitive” proposal that included wage increases, profit sharing, health care benefits and job security.
Ford also said it had invested more than $2 billion in the Kentucky plant since 2015, creating more than 2,000 jobs. The company said it was committed to reaching a deal with the UAW that would benefit both parties.
“We respect our UAW partners and their right to strike, but we believe this action is unnecessary and counterproductive,” Ford said in a statement. “We urge the UAW leadership to return to the bargaining table and work with us to finalize an agreement as soon as possible.”
UAW expands the strike to other plants
The UAW launched its simultaneous but limited strike against Ford, GM and Stellantis on September 15, starting with one plant at each automaker. The union has gradually expanded the strike to other plants, affecting more than 33,000 of the 150,000 union workers employed by the Big Three.
The strike has cost the U.S. economy more than $5.5 billion and resulted in thousands of layoffs across automakers and suppliers due to the closure of key assembly plants. The strike has also disrupted the supply chain and reduced the inventory of new vehicles at dealerships.
The UAW said it was striking for better wages, benefits, working conditions and job security. The union also said it wanted to address issues such as outsourcing, temporary workers, health care costs and electric vehicle production.
“We’re at a point in this process where we are looking for one thing only — a deal, a tentative agreement,” Fain said. “We’re not going to settle for anything less than what our members deserve.”