UAW negotiations continue with the Big Three

INDIANA – Negotiators for the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor had “reasonably productive discussions” toward a new contract, the union said on Saturday, while officials at Chrysler parent Stellantis said a proposal to resume work at an idled Illinois factory has fallen through.

About 12,700 UAW workers remained on strike for a second day as part of a coordinated labor action targeting three U.S. assembly plants – one at each of the Detroit Three automakers.

Nearly one in 10 of America’s unionized auto workers went on strike Friday, September 15th to pressure Detroit’s three automakers into raising wages.

The strikes are limited for now to three assembly plants: a GM factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, near Detroit, and a Jeep plant run by Stellantis in Toledo, Ohio.

UAW President Shawn Fain said members are using a “stand up” strike strategy in which employees will target a limited number of locations.

The nearly 150,000 autoworkers who are active UAW members will not strike all at once.

Shawn Fain

The strategy, including ramping up strikes as negotiating continues, would give the UAW more leverage. “We have the power to keep escalating and keep taking plants out,” Fain added.

UAW Local 440 members at GM Bedford Casting Operations are still working but without a contract.

Non-striking locals will be ready to walk out at a moment’s notice, pending direction from national leadership.

Fain says workers are seeking across-the-board wage increases of 36% over four years; the companies have countered by offering increases ranging from 17.5% to 20%.

However, the UAW comment about the tenor of talks at Ford was more positive than the union’s characterization of progress ahead of the kickoff of the strikes.

Ford CEO Jim Farley

On Thursday, Ford CEO Jim Farley said the UAW’s proposals would push the company to bankruptcy, adding that there was “nothing going on” in negotiations.

Workers out on the picket lines said they hoped the strikes didn’t last long, but added that they were committed to the cause and appreciated Fain’s tough tactics.

“As we have said all along, Ford has bet on the UAW more than any other company. We are committed to reaching an agreement with UAW that rewards our workers and allows Ford to invest in the future. We have to win together,” Mark Truby, Ford’s chief communications officer, said in a statement.

Stellantis said on Saturday it had hiked its offer, proposing raises of 20% over a four-and-a-half-year contract term, including an immediate 10% hike. That matches proposals from GM and Ford. Stellantis said talks would resume on Monday.