UAW Announces New Phase of Strike Against 'Big Three' Automakers

Written by Laura Miller

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union announced a new phase in its ongoing stand-up strike against the “Big Three” Detroit-area automakers on Friday.

In the first three weeks of the strike, the union had been announcing which of the Big Three plants its members would be walking out of on Friday afternoons.

In a live webcast on the morning of Friday, Oct. 13, UAW president Shawn Fain said the union will now be calling on members at plants to strike “when we need to, where we need to, with little notice.”

The union utilized the tactic just days before making the announcement. On Oct. 11, it called on members at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant to stand up and walk out. Some 8,700 members answered the call and walked off the job.

Fain explained the move on Friday’s webcast. Just before the Kentucky Truck Plant walkout, Ford made a contract offer that was no different than the one rejected by the union two weeks earlier. Union leaders made the call then to not wait until Friday to expand its strike. “We didn’t wait a minute,” Fain said, as union leaders immediately put out the call to strike at Ford’s biggest plant.

“Ford thought they could sit back and not make further progress in bargaining because they thought they had the best deal on the table,” Fain said. Knowing the union would make an announcement on Fridays, Ford thought they could wait to make an offer until just before that, according to Fain. “They thought they’d figured out the so-called rules of the game, so we changed the rules,” he said.

“Now there’s only one rule: Pony up,” he stated.

Fain noted the union is still bargaining hard with all three automakers, but they’ve been put on notice that the union is “in a new phase of this fight.”

“Taking out Kentucky Truck sent a very clear message not only to Ford, but to GM and Stellantis as well. Don’t you dare slow walk us or lowball us. We will take out whatever plants they force us to,” the union leader said.

Ford’s Response to Kentucky Truck Strike

On Thursday, Oct. 12, Ford hosted a virtual briefing with analysts to discuss the Kentucky Truck work stoppage and its repercussions for the company and economy.

“The Kentucky Truck Plant is one of the most important manufacturing plants of any kind in America and certainly in the automotive industry,” an executive said.

Ford executives said there will be various aftershocks when a plant like this is taken down, including impacts to customers, employees, suppliers, dealers, and the economy.

Commenting on the last contract offer made to the UAW, a Ford executive said, “As a company, if we go further, we risk the ability to invest in the business and to profitably grow.”

Fain said there is “pathetic irony” in the statement that Ford has reached its limits with what it can offer in the contract, as Ford workers are the ones who’ve reached their limits after decades of falling living standards.

Where the UAW Strike Has Hit

The UAW’s stand-up strike has now hit the following Big Three plants:

  • Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky.
  • Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.
  • Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant in Illinois
  • GM’s Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri
  • GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant in Michigan
  • All 18 of GM’s parts distribution facilities
  • The Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio
  • All 20 of Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities

Laura Miller

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