UAW chief Shawn Fain says strike talks with automakers are

As UAW strike continues, workers battle loss of wages

As UAW strike continues, workers battle loss of wages


United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Friday that the union’s ongoing strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers is securing vital concessions, mooting the need to expand the work stoppage — at least for now.

“We are winning, we are making progress and we are headed in the right direction,” he said in a broadcast on Facebook.

As evidence of that momentum, Fain said General Motors has agreed to fold employees at its forthcoming electric vehicle battery plant in Indiana into the UAW contract. “Today we made GM say yes when they’d rather say no,” he said.

Yet while Fain said negotiations are progressing, he also emphasized that Ford, GM and Stellantis (the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, along with several foreign car brands) still need to meet union demands on issues including retirement benefits. 

“Our strike is working but we’re not there yet,” he said. “Everything we’ve done has been [with] one goal in mind: record contract that reflects Big Three record profits.”

The UAW’s demands include a 36% pay increase over four years; annual cost-of-living adjustments; pension benefits for all employees; greater job security; a faster path to full-time status for temporary workers; and a four-day work week. Along with a pay hike, the union also wants the automakers to eliminate a two-tiered wage system the companies adopted in 2007 as the companies were struggling financially. 

The automakers say they have made reasonable counteroffers, while arguing that the UAW’s wage and other demands would make it hard to compete with other car manufacturers. Of the three automakers, GM had fallen behind the most in concessions in recent weeks, Fain said Friday. 

“Monumental development”

Fain said Friday the union was set to announce an additional strike at GM’s plant in Arlington, Texas, where workers produce the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL as well as the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade-V. But agreeing to add EV battery workers to the UAW contract made union leaders change course, Fain said. 

GM adding the EV plants is “a monumental development,” said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University.

“GM went far beyond and gave them this,” he said. “And I think GM is thinking they may get something in return for this on the economic items.”

Fain also used Friday’s address to mention other concessions the strike has generated from the Big Three. He said Ford began its negotiations by offering a 9% wage increase and that has now increased to 23%. Stellantis and GM meanwhile have current offers of 20% increases. 

Fain said Ford and Stellantis have agreed to restore cost-of-living adjustments to worker wages, which were eliminated in 2007. The automakers also have agreed to reduce the time it takes for workers to reach top wages, which is currently eight years, to three at Ford and four years at GM and Stellantis, he said.  

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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