UAW President Shawn Fain said the union would not expand its strike against the Big Three automakers on Friday, but that the UAW was prepared to add more workers to the picket lines at any time as its union action is entering a new phase.
“We are ready at any time to call on more locals to stand up and walk out,” Fain said in a live update on the negotiations. He later added: “We changed the rules. Now there is only one rule: get up.
The announcement marks a tactical shift, Fain said. Previously, the UAW announced the strike extension in Fain’s weekly Friday updates. But now, as part of the union’s strategy to keep automakers off balance, Fain said the strike extension could happen any day of the week, at any time.
Last Wednesday, for the first time, it announced a midweek expansion, and without warning, when 8,700 UAW members suddenly went on strike at Ford’s largest plant, the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.
“We are entering a new phase of this strike, and it requires a new approach,” Fain said. “We are done waiting for Friday to intensify our strike.”
Fain said companies have started waiting until Friday to make progress on their bargaining positions and the union is changing its strategy to speed up progress in negotiations.
“A negotiation requires both parties to move. If they’re not ready to act, we’re going to give them a boost in a language they understand – in dollars and cents,” he said.
This is the first time the union has gone on strike simultaneously against GM, Ford and Stellantis. But rather than shutting down the company’s U.S. operations entirely, the union targeted its strike against specific facilities, then gradually expanded the strike in order to increase pressure at the bargaining table.
The Kentucky truck plant is a key revenue source for Ford, assembling heavy-duty pickup trucks and full-size SUVs and producing $25 billion in annual sales, or about a sixth of its revenue. It also generated about $150 million in profits per week, according to an estimate by Colin Langan, an auto analyst at Wells Fargo.
Ford officials told reporters Thursday that the company had gone as far as possible when it came to the extra money it could offer its members.
“We have reached our limit. We have tried very hard to get here,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the unit that sells most Ford vehicles. gasoline cars to consumers. “We are I am still working to achieve this. We are willing to move funds within the deal that might better meet the needs of the union, but in terms of the cost of the deal, we are there. We have been very clear, we are at the limit. Going any further would harm our ability to invest in the business, because we have to invest.
Fain scoffed at Ford’s statement, saying that while Ford has recovered well since the Great Recession, its employees have seen only modest pay increases., which were offset by rising prices.
“I found a pathetic irony in that statement,” he said Friday. “You know who stretched?” Ford workers who haven’t gotten a raise in a decade.”
Fain said the union is in a strong position in negotiations and has already accomplished a lot in negotiations, but not enough to make up for workers’ past concessions.
“We are at the point in this process where we are looking for one thing: agreement,” Fain said. “We are not giving these companies an extra hour or day. They know what needs to happen and how to get it done. The removal of Kentucky Truck sent a very clear message not only to Ford, but also to GM and Stellantis. Don’t you dare walk us slowly or drive us low. We will eliminate any plants that you force us to pull out.
The companies officially offered their members an immediate 10% raise to union members and additional raises totaling 10 percentage points or more over the life of the contracts, which are expected to last until spring 2028.
Companies also agree to some sort of cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) return to union pay scales to protect workers from rising prices. The union gave up the COLA in 2007, along with traditional pension plans and retiree health care coverage for workers hired after the concession contracts were concluded that year.
Additionally, a week ago, Fain announced that GM had agreed to a major union demand to place workers at new and planned electric vehicle battery plants under the company’s national framework agreement. business.
GM, Ford and Stellatis have all announced plans to transition from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, or EVs. This would end the need to create jobs at current factories that make engines and transmissions.
All three are each building at least three factories, almost all in joint ventures with Asian battery makers, which will be used to power electric vehicles. All should pay far less than what UAW members working in these engine and transmission plants currently receive.
At the start of negotiations, the companies insisted that the battery factory workers would be employees of the joint ventures, not the companies themselves, and that their pay scale would not be included in this contract.
The details of what GM has agreed to regarding battery factory workers are not yet known, as GM has not confirmed the agreement in principle on the issue. Ford officials said they had also negotiated with the union on the battery plant issue and that progress had been made, without giving details.