DETROIT (NewsNation) — The United Auto Workers outlined plans for a series of strikes at individual auto plants in what would be its first-ever simultaneous strike against the Detroit “Big Three” automakers if agreements are not reached by Thursday.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Wednesday that company offers aren’t enough. In an online address to union members, Fain said General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have raised their initial wage offers, but have rejected some of the union’s other demands.
“We do not yet have offers on the table that reflect the sacrifices and contributions our members have made to these companies,” he said. “To win, we’re likely going to have to take action. We are preparing to strike these companies in a way they’ve never seen before.”
Fain added that UAW was not planning company-wide walkouts if no deal was reached, but would escalate if negotiations did not improve.
“We are preparing to strike these companies like they’ve never seen a strike before,” Fain said in a Facebook Live, informing members that a favorable deal seems unlikely at this point.
More than 140,000 workers across the U.S. could walk off the job at 11:59 p.m. ET if a deal is not made.
With less than 24 hours remaining to reach an agreement, the situation is becoming increasingly tense. This “stand-up strike” will involve some workers picketing while others continue to work under an expired contract.
Fain said the final decision on which plants to strike won’t be made until Thursday night and will be announced at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
He added it is still possible that all 146,000 UAW members could walk out, but the union will begin by striking at a limited number of plants.
Meanwhile, General Motors celebrated record sales at the 2023 Detroit Auto Show.
“Across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, everywhere we go, we are having our best calendar year-to-date sales in our history,” said General Motors executive James Roth.
However, UAW views it as a disrespectful move during ongoing negotiations.
“We have to flip the script on its head and ask why these CEOs have three, four homes, private jets, and boats, but yet, most American working-class people can’t even get by,” said Sean Crawford, a GM worker.
UAW is advocating for wage increases of as much as 20%, the removal of tiered payment systems, the reinstatement of cost-of-living allowances to combat inflation and discussions around a 32-hour work week.
“You know everybody has a family, you’ve got kids, you’ve got grandkids, and this is all to help support them and set up a future for them,” said Hugh McKinney, a GM worker.
Mckinney, who’s worked for GM for more than 48 years, said he’s giving his life to the job, and so has his co-worker Christopher Aldelean.
“I’ve been here 40 years. I have two sons that work here, one for General Motors, one for Dearmark, the third party,” Aldelean said.
These men, like many others, take pride in building cars for the American people, working for what they call some of the world’s finest automakers. However, they express frustration at what they perceive as short-sighted decisions.
“Basically they’re not bargaining in good faith as far as we’re concerned, some of the issues that they’ve addressed, they really have offered us a pittance of what were asking for,” McKinney said.
Stellantis responded to the impending strike, writing in a statement, “Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to have a tentative agreement on the table before (today’s) deadline. The future for our represented employees and their families deserves nothing less.”
However, these workers told NewsNation that they won’t compromise on their demands.
“You only fight for the rights that you want to keep. I want to keep all of them, so I’ve been ready,” Crawford said. “I’ve been staying ready and I hope the rest of America will get ready with us, so they get their rights in their workplaces as well because we all deserve dignity.”
A UAW strike that shuts the Detroit Big Three manufacturers for 10 days could cost carmakers, suppliers and workers more than $5 billion, Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group estimated and could disrupt the broader auto supplier network.
Ford said it had made four counteroffers and blasted the UAW, saying the company had “not received any genuine counteroffers from the union” and added, “We should be working creatively to solve hard problems rather than planning strikes and PR events.”
Stellantis said it is “still awaiting the UAW’s response to the offer we presented yesterday.” GM said it continues “to bargain directly and in good faith with the UAW and have presented additional strong offers. We are making progress in key areas.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.