The nearly-150,000 members of the United Auto Workers union are reportedly set to vote next week on whether or not to authorize a strike against the Big Three automakers. According to WXYZ Detroit, Union President Shawn Fain took to Facebook to tell members that talks – which started back in July – are moving slowly. In fact, he says they haven’t even gotten to wages and other economic issues.
The UAW’s contract with General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis is set to expire in less than a month, at 11:59 p.m. on September 14, and Fain has reportedly said he does not plan to extend contracts past that date. He has also reportedly told local officials to report the results of their votes to the union headquarters by August 24th.
“If we want to make progress at the bargaining table, we need to show the companies that it’s not just talk,” Fain reportedly said.
The outlet visited a truck assembly plant in Warren, Michigan, and workers there said they were ready to strike if needed.
“The regular workers haven’t gotten a raise. In my 22 years, I haven’t gotten one,” an auto worker told WXYZ.
Workers also say 12-hour shifts for six days a week have been expected in some cases – implying that companies may be building up inventory in case of a strike. Some don’t feel like much progress is being made in negotiations.
WXYZ Detroit reports that Fain has set some rather high expectations for contract talks, saying the UAW is aiming for more than a 40 percent general pay increase over the next four years, restoration of pension for new highers, cost-of-living increase and an end to wage tiers among other goals. The union is also aiming to get guarantees that it will be able to represent workers at 10 U.S. electric vehicle battery plants proposed by the companies. He has repeatedly said that workers can make big gains, but they have to be willing to strike in order to get them.
“Companies like to socialize their losses and privatize profits. During hard times, the Big 3 gets massive taxpayer bailouts,” Fain reportedly said. “Meanwhile workers are told to give up pensions, vacations, and raises – their standard of living.
On the other hand, automakers say they are facing billions of dollars in development costs as the industry looks toward an electric vehicle future. Stellantis CEO Mark Stewart has also apparently accused Fain of “theatrics and personal insults” that he says do not help to reach a deal. He also said that the automaker is committed to an agreement based on “economic realism” and he wants to find a solution that will protect Stellantis – the Detroit automaker with the most profitability – from nonunion companies with lower costs.
Fain, as you may have imagined, called Stewart’s letter patronizing and pointed to the billions of dollars in profits Stellanits has made.
“We later learned Stewart wrote that letter from his second million-dollar mansion in Acapulco, Mexico,” Fain reportedly said.