Workers at 38 GM and Stellantis auto suppliers called to join UAW strike

By: - September 22, 2023 11:32 am

The UAW strike begins and hundreds come to picket at Ford-owned Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan the night of September 14, 2023. (photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

This article was first published by Michigan Advance.

Workers at a total of 38 auto parts plants will join the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Detroit Three auto manufacturers: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

All the parts distribution facilities for General Motors and Stellantis across the country are called to stand up and strike at noon Friday.

The UAW declared the strike one week ago after negotiations with all three companies failed. About 13,000 workers were called to strike last week at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio. Those workers will remain on the picket line.

UAW President Shawn Fain said on a social media livestream Friday morning that for two months, the union has informed auto companies of their demands. But the companies did not show interest in negotiating, he said.

However, Fain said over the last week, Ford, in particular, has made serious movement to meet the demands. Although the strikes will continue, Fain said Ford is showing it’s serious about reaching a deal.

And though Ford is not quite there yet, Fain said, efforts for today are focused on GM and Stellantis auto supplier plants across 20 states, including Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado, West Virginia, Tennessee and Minnesota.

“We’ve said for weeks. We’re not going to wait around forever for a fair contract at the Big Three. The companies know how to make this right. The public is on our side and the members of the UAW are ready to stand up,” Fain said. “And we will keep going, keep organizing and keep expanding the Stand Up Strike as necessary.”

The union is using a staggered strike strategy to “keep the companies guessing.” They’re calling it the “Stand Up Strike” plan, where the president of the union will periodically announce plants to go on strike that day, which the union says will leave room to escalate the strike.

The union represents about 150,000 auto workers across the country.

The strike marks a historic moment for the union as this is the first time in its 88-year history, it has declared a strike on all three Detroit automakers at the same time.

Striking workers on the picket line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant have told the Advance that after helping the billionaire leaders of Ford make millions, they are owed living wages and equitable benefits including appropriate work hours.

Among the demands from the union, the UAW is asking auto manufacturers for 32-hour work weeks, as well as an end to the tiered system of wages between employees as they seek better wages and benefits throughout the length of their service.

There are news reports that the UAW has scaled back its requests for 40% pay increases over the course of four years, but the UAW website seems to maintain the 40% figure. The union is also asking for updated and improved benefits like pensions and more paid time off.

Fain has invited President Joe Biden to join UAW workers at the picket line. Several leaders, including U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have joined union workers since the strike.

Former President Donald Trump announced he plans to forgo going to the second GOP presidential candidate debate Wednesday and instead come to Detroit to meet with striking autoworkers, to the disdain of Fain.

“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement this week. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”

Details of the event have not been released.

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.