The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has declared its ongoing strike against the three largest US automakers to be effective, citing recent concessions made by General Motors during negotiations.
As the strike enters its fourth week, the UAW hinted at “breaking developments” at the bargaining table before a scheduled briefing on Friday.
UAW President Shawn Fain, donning a shirt bearing the slogan “Eat the Rich,” initiated a livestream announcement, revealing that the threat of a strike against GM had prompted the company to agree to place its electric-battery manufacturing under the national master agreement with the union.
“GM has recognized the urgency of the situation. Today, under the looming threat of significant financial losses, they have taken a substantial step towards a just transition,” stated Fain. “Our strike is making an impact, but there’s more work to be done.”
Fain added, “In just three weeks, we have pushed these companies farther than anyone could have anticipated.”
Fain disclosed that Ford was leading in terms of wage offers compared to Stellantis and General Motors. He also noted that both Ford and Stellantis had agreed to reinstate a cost-of-living allowance that had been eliminated as part of concessions made during the 2008 economic recession.
The UAW and autoworkers have framed the strikes as a broader battle against corporate greed. Democratic elected officials have voiced their support, arguing that workers’ wages have not kept pace with exorbitant executive compensation and record corporate profits.
“The billionaires and corporate executives underestimate us, the autoworkers. They think we don’t understand. They believe we only respond to the threat of a supervisor’s reprimand or the relentless pace of an assembly line,” said Fain. “We expect results from every company, and we’ve been clear about how to prevent a strike and what it takes to end one.”
During the livestream, Fain did not announce any additional strikes involving the 25,000 workers currently on strike.
The UAW’s “Stand Up” strike, involving approximately 13,000 auto workers at a General Motors plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, and a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, commenced on September 15. This strategy aims to keep the corporations uncertain while intensifying pressure for substantial wage increases. Additionally, the UAW seeks the reinstatement of 2008 concessions, including cost-of-living adjustments, retirement pensions, and the elimination of lower-wage tiers.
On September 22, the UAW expanded the strike to encompass 38 parts and distribution sites in 20 states at General Motors and Stellantis, while progress in contract talks at Ford meant that the strike there was not escalated as with the other two automakers.
Last month, President Joe Biden made history by joining the UAW picket line in Michigan, becoming the first sitting president to do so.
The strikes have at times grown contentious, with instances of violence directed at picketing workers, including a driver striking five individuals on a picket line in Flint.
Recently, the UAW expanded the strike to include Ford’s Chicago assembly plant and a GM plant in Lansing, Michigan, while action at Stellantis was not escalated last week due to progress made in negotiations.