UAW leader warns of strike at any Detroit automaker without a new contract deal next week

The leader of the United Auto Workers (UAW) warned the union will strike at any Detroit automaker that does not reach a new labor agreement by next week. 

When asked by The Associated Press (AP) if the union would call a strike on any of the companies that do not reach a tentative agreement, UAW President Shawn Fain said, “That’s the plan.” 

The contracts with the three major automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis — are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. 

Negotiations between UAW and the Big Three have been ongoing since early July over pay increases, pensions, career security and concerns over the industry’s shift to electric vehicles (EVs), which require fewer workers to make.

The union is asking for a 46 percent pay raise, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, union representation of workers at new battery plants and restoration of traditional pensions. 

Speaking with the AP, Fain signaled the possibility of avoiding a strike and recognized the union might need to give up some of its requests to reach agreements with the three companies. Fain told the AP he would rather reach new contracts with the automakers than begin a strike of up to 146,000 members. 

Reporting some progress with negotiations, Fain told the AP the UAW plans to meet with General Motors on Thursday about the union’s economic demands. Discussions continue with Ford on wages and benefits, while Stellantis has not counteroffered the union’s wage and benefit requests, according to Fain. 

The Big Three have argued UAW’s demands are unrealistic amid intense competition from Tesla and lower-wage foreign automakers. 

“I know that our demands are ambitious, but I’ve told the companies repeatedly, I’m not the reason that members’ expectations are so high,” Fain said in a streamed event last week. “What’s driving members’ expectations are the Big Three’s profits. You cannot make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract.” 

Last month, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer claimed Stellantis has threatened to move the production of Ram 1500 pickup trucks from suburban Detroit to Mexico. The possibility of moving production of the current Ram 1500 to Mexico fueled automakers’ concerns that the push for EVs will risk their jobs and compensation. 

The Hill reached out to UAW for additional comment. 

Updated at 2:02 p.m.

Tags Big Three detroit UAW UAW strike United Auto Workers