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UAW expands strike against GM, Stellantis; Biden to visit picket line

  • UAW has threatened to expand to other facilities if a fair deal is not met
  • Strike has caused financial strain on local community businesses
  • Despite the financial strain, local businesses support UAW members

WAYNE, Mich. (NewsNation) — United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain announced the autoworker strike would expand Friday to multiple facilities across the U.S.

Fain called for all of the parts distribution facilities at General Motors and Stellantis, but not Ford, to stand up and strike at noon. That includes 38 locations across 20 states and all nine regions of the UAW.

Ford was spared additional strikes because the company has met some of the union’s demands during negotiations over the past week, said Fain.

“Stellantis and GM in particular are going to need some serious pushing,” Fain said. While Ford has more work to do, Fain said the union wanted to recognize Ford is showing it’s serious about reaching a deal.

President Joe Biden said Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he would go to Michigan on Tuesday “to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create.”

The “Big Three” had been given until 12 p.m. ET on Friday to make a deal with UAW, and if an agreement was not reached, thousands more workers across multiple facilities would join the 13,000 UAW members already striking.

“Our members have said, ‘Enough is enough,'” Fain said. “The stand-up strike movement is not just about the ‘Big Three.’ Everywhere, UAW members in the working class are ready to stand up against corporate greed and stand up for our communities.”

Fain commended the UAW members who began the stand-up strike — meaning only a few members strike first and additional members are added as negotiations continue — last week and have been on the picket line since.

“Reinforcements are coming,” Fain continued. “We are not going to wait around forever for a fair contract at the ‘Big Three.'”

In addition to wage increases, the union is seeking the restoration of cost-of-living pay raises, an end to varying tiers of wages for factory jobs, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, the restoration of traditional defined-benefit pensions for new hires who now receive only 401k-style retirement plans, pension increases for retirees and other items.

The Detroit News reported Thursday that a spokesman for Fain wrote on a private group chat on X, formerly Twitter, that union negotiators aimed to inflict “recurring reputation damage and operational chaos” on the carmakers, and, “If we can keep them wounded for months they don’t know what to do.”

Ford and GM seized on the messages as a sign of bad faith by the UAW.

“It’s now clear that the UAW leadership has always intended to cause months-long disruption, regardless of the harm it causes to its members and their communities,” GM said in a statement.

Ford spokesman Mark Truby called the messages “disappointing, to say the least, given what is at stake for our employees, the companies and this region.”

The UAW spokesman, Jonah Furman, did not confirm writing the messages, which were linked to the same picture as his X account, and called them “private messages” that “you shouldn’t have,” the newspaper reported.

But as the strike enters week two, the ripple effects of the work stoppage are being felt in every sector of the automotive industry — from suppliers to dealerships.

The union has gained the support of the public, despite local communities near the plants feeling the financial pinch.

Many of these businesses rely on union members as customers to help keep their shops afloat and are now taking a financial hit.

At Nick’s Coney Island, a restaurant down the street from the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, union workers are frequent customers. Now, employees tell NewsNation they haven’t been seeing their regular customers since the strike began, and it’s putting a huge hit on their business.

Kayla Wenderski, who works at Nick’s Coney Island, said she’s struggling in her own household with less cash coming in from her UAW regulars.

“We’re down 70% in sales, so it is a really big hit for us. And obviously, that’s not just from a business standpoint but also from a single-mom standpoint. I also can’t afford to feed my family off that, so if you look around our tables are pretty empty. We’re usually really packed,” Wenderski said.

At the Tubs and Tumblers laundromat near the Ford plant, Kelly Johnson said business has also lulled as union workers spend day and night on the picket line.

“We have customers that work at Ford that are usually in here during the week and I have not seen any of them,” Johnson said. “It definitely has slowed down.”

While the strike could cost more than an estimated $5 billion in economic losses if it reaches the 10-day mark, the impact on the local communities that support the union workers is often overlooked.

Despite the toll it’s taking on their businesses, local workers told NewsNation they are fully behind the union workers and want to do everything they can to help them.

“My whole family is a Ford family. The sooner they get what they deserve, the sooner we can all get back to work,” Wenderski said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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