The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has recently announced that there are no new strike targets, but the president of the group, Shawn Fain, declared that the labor action has entered a new stage involving last-minute walkouts. During a webcast briefing, Fain stated, “We’re entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach.” The union’s message to the companies is clear: they will not tolerate any slow-walking or low-balling tactics. Fain emphasized, “We will take out whatever plants they force us to.”
Just two days ago, the UAW announced an immediate walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, where some of the company’s most profitable models are built. As a result of this action, 8,700 workers went on strike, increasing the total number of members on strike to nearly 34,000. This targeted strike began on September 15 and initially affected one plant at each of the Detroit giants Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. The UAW expanded the strike on the two subsequent Fridays following a webcast by Fain.
Fain explained that the latest pivot in the labor action was essential to drive progress in negotiations, as the companies had grown accustomed to waiting until Friday to offer significant concessions. Ford, in particular, had been discussing sweetening its economic offer for two weeks, which included a 23 percent wage increase over the course of the contract. However, when both sides met, Ford presented the same terms as two weeks earlier, disappointing the UAW. Fain stressed, “Taking out Kentucky Truck sent a very clear message not only to Ford but to GM and Stellantis as well. At this point in the process, we’re interested in only one thing: a deal and a tentative agreement.”
Stellantis, in response to the UAW strike at its Toledo, Ohio factory, has announced temporary layoffs for an additional 700 workers from its plants in Kokomo, Indiana. This brings the total number of employees on temporary layoff across three states to 1,340 for the company. However, Stellantis also mentioned that progress had been made in talks with the UAW. The focus of these negotiations is to narrow the gaps on issues that will provide immediate financial gains and job security for employees while ensuring the company’s sustainability.
In a recent media call, Ford executive Kumar Galhotra stated that the company is unable to further enhance its economic offer. Galhotra, President of Ford Blue, asserted, “We have been very clear that we are at the limit.” He strongly denied any allegations of misleading the UAW regarding Ford’s negotiating stance. However, Ford expressed concerns that the strike at Kentucky could disrupt the supply chain and potentially lead to layoffs of up to 4,600 workers at other Ford facilities.
The US auto workers union is intensifying its labor action with last-minute walkouts, marking a new phase in the fight for better terms and agreements with major automotive companies. The recent immediate walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant serves as a clear message to Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis that the UAW is determined to secure a deal and a tentative agreement. As talks continue and progress is made, both sides face challenges and limitations. It remains crucial for all parties involved to find common ground and reach a resolution that satisfies the demands of the auto workers while ensuring the stability and sustainability of the companies involved.