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Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket in Delta Township, Michigan September 29, 2023.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters
DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union believes there is “more to be won” in ongoing contract negotiations with the Detroit automakers following five weeks of labor strikes against the companies, UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday.
His comments come despite record contract offers from General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis that now include 23% hourly pay increases and other significantly enhanced benefits during the terms of the four and a half-year deal.
“There is more to be won,” Fain said during an online broadcast. “These are already record contracts, but they come at the end of decades of record decline. So it’s not enough to be the best ever, when auto workers have gone backwards over the last two decades. That’s a very low bar.”
Despite Fain’s comments, the union did not announce additional strikes Friday against any of the companies. He said the “bottom line is we’ve got cards left to play, and they’ve got money left to spend.”
Fain did not address a Friday report by Bloomberg that the union has asked for a 25% increase in general wages.
The union has not announced any additional strikes since initiating an unexpected walkout on Oct. 11 at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant that produces highly profitable pickup trucks and SUVs. That’s despite Ford having the best proposal regarding economics, as outlined Friday by Fain.
Fain spent quite a notable amount of time during the online broadcast discussing how the union plans to use these talks to assist in organizing non-union plans. He also heavily criticized the Monday comments of Ford Chair Bill Ford to bring an end to the negotiations.
“Bill Ford said it shouldn’t be Ford versus the UAW. He said it should be the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers,” Fain said. “I want to be crystal clear on one thing: The days of the UAW and Ford being a team to fight other companies are over … Non-union autoworkers are not the enemy. Those are our future union family.”
Ford said it remains “eager to conclude these negotiations with a contract” that benefits its workers, citing it’s “good that Mr. Fain acknowledged Ford’s contract offer ‘already’ is a record and remains the best one on the table.”
Stellantis said the sides “continue to be productive, building on the momentum from the past several weeks,” but declined to discuss specific details. GM declined to comment regarding Fain’s comments, citing details it released of its most recent offer earlier Friday.
The UAW hasn’t expanded strikes at GM since Sept. 29 or at Stellantis since Sept. 22, despite offers made this week not meeting details of Ford’s proposal from last week and Fain last week saying the union was initiating a “new phase” of strikes and contract negotiations.
“Right before a deal is when there’s the most aggressive push for that last mile. They just want to wait us out,” Fain said. “They want division. They want fear. They want uncertainty. And what we have is our solidarity.”
The strike at Ford’s Kentucky plant — responsible for $25 billion in revenue annually — marked a major escalation in the UAW’s targeted, or “stand-up,” strikes. It also represents a shift in strategy, as Fain had previously publicly announced the targets before the work stoppages occurred.
The UAW has been gradually increasing the strikes since the work stoppages began after the sides failed to reach tentative agreements by Sept 14.
About 34,000 U.S. automakers with the companies, or roughly 23% of UAW members covered by the expired contracts with the Detroit automakers, were on strike.
Here are details of current proposals by the companies to UAW: