The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, representing auto workers in the US, has announced a new phase in its ongoing strike. While no new strike targets have been identified, the UAW’s president, Shawn Fain, stated that the labor action would now involve last-minute walkouts. Fain emphasized the need for a fresh approach, stating that the companies must not delay or underestimate the union’s resolve. The UAW is determined to take action against any plants that force their hand.
Just two days prior to the announcement, the UAW carried out an immediate walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. This plant is known for producing some of Ford’s most profitable models. The walkout involved 8,700 workers, bringing the total number of striking UAW members to nearly 34,000. Previously, the UAW had initiated targeted strikes on September 15, impacting plants at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, with one plant from each company going offline initially. The union had expanded the strike in subsequent weeks following Fain’s webcast. However, Fain argued that the latest shift was necessary to push negotiations forward. He highlighted that the companies had become comfortable with offering significant concessions only on Fridays.
According to Fain’s remarks, the decision to target the Kentucky Truck Plant served as a clear message to Ford, as well as General Motors and Stellantis. The union’s focus is now solely on reaching a deal and securing a tentative agreement. Fain revealed that Ford had been talking about improving its economic offer for two weeks, including a proposed 23 percent wage increase over the contract term. Yet, when they finally met to discuss, Ford presented the same terms as before. The UAW’s strategic move with the Kentucky plant was intended to reinforce their determination.
Following the UAW strike at the Toledo, Ohio factory, Stellantis announced temporary layoffs for an additional 700 workers at its plants in Kokomo, Indiana. As a result, the company now has a total of 1,340 employees on temporary layoff across three states. Despite this setback, Stellantis claimed to have made progress in its talks with the UAW. The company emphasized the importance of narrowing the gaps on crucial issues that would provide immediate financial gains and job security for its employees, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of the company.
Ford, on the other hand, did not immediately respond to Fain’s remarks. However, in a media call held the previous day, Ford executive Kumar Galhotra expressed that the company was unable to further enhance its economic offer. Galhotra, President of Ford Blue, emphasized that Ford had been transparent about their negotiating stance and had not misled the UAW. Ford also warned that the Kentucky walkout could have adverse effects on the supply chain, potentially leading to layoffs impacting up to 4,600 workers across other Ford facilities.
As the UAW strike progresses and enters this new phase of last-minute walkouts, both the union and the automakers face crucial challenges. The union, driven by Fain’s leadership, seeks to secure favorable terms for its members and make significant progress in negotiations. The automakers, on the other hand, must carefully consider the potential economic and reputational consequences of an extended strike. Ultimately, the resolution lies in reaching a viable deal and a mutually acceptable tentative agreement that ensures the interests of all parties involved.