Detroit (Fox 2) – The stage is set for a historic strike if the autoworkers union and Detroit auto manufacturers cannot reach an agreement by midnight Thursday. Based on the UAW president’s comments Wednesday to factory workers at Ford, General Motors and Stellar, it’s unlikely the two sides will reach an agreement.
If the strike continues for even 10 days, then billions will be lost, experts estimate.
But what a potential strike looks like will differ from past collective bargaining. Shawn Fein said leadership will come from each of the Big Three companies at different plants. From there, they can increase the size of the protest based on how negotiations are going for each company.
The UAW is calling it a “stand up strike.”
“We’re not going to hit all our facilities at once,” Fein said during a live stream Wednesday. “We will hit three companies, this is a historic first. Initially we will announce a limited number of targets. Then based on what happens in the negotiations, we are going to announce more locals who will be called to stand up. Up and strike.”
The first announcements will be made on Thursday at 10pm.
More: Here’s how the UAW strike will unfold if a deal isn’t reached
Then on Friday, a rally is planned at the UAW’s headquarters in downtown Detroit, where negotiators will be with picketers instead of in a bargaining room. It’s scheduled to start an hour before the auto show’s charity preview, which will be just down the road.
Fein called on the membership to “maintain constant strike readiness”.
One autoworker who spoke to FOX 2 said he’s absolutely ready to picket.
“In about 17 of my 25 years it’s gone ‘we were treated like gold until now we’re at the bottom of the barrel while they’re making $22 million in their Mexico villa’ and we’re here just trying to feed our kids and then with inflation And they don’t want to pay us any living expenses,” Charles Wade said.
Wade works on the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
More: Ford CEO: ‘Most Generous Offer in 80 Years’ UAW Gives Big 3 Workers, Suppliers Deadline
He mentioned cost of living adjustments are among the sticking points for autoworkers. So are wages, benefits and levels.
All three automakers made statements with varying degrees of hope for a breakthrough:
Here’s what the UAW wants from Detroit’s Big Three during negotiations
We are still awaiting the UAW’s response to the proposal presented yesterday. Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to get a tentative agreement on the table before the collective bargaining agreement expires.
We want to let you know that we continue to bargain directly and in good faith and have made an additional strong offer to the UAW. We are making progress in key areas that we believe are most important to you These include historic guaranteed annual wage increases, investments in our U.S. manufacturing plants to provide opportunity for all, and shortening the time for progressive workers to reach the top wage.
Our goal is to reach an agreement before the current contract expires.
We know that best-in-class manufacturing is our competitive advantage, and it’s thanks to you. We are incredibly passionate about our products, our technology, and our customer engagement. Any disruption to what we can deliver to our customers is a setback for all of us. We have come through the pandemic and other recent challenges with critical business momentum and together we can continue to do so. We can all win.
The Ford team continues to put 100% of our energy into reaching an agreement with the UAW that rewards our valued employees and allows the company to invest in the future. If there is a strike, it’s not because Ford made a great offer. We have and this is all we can control. In fact, we’ve had four offers on the table since August 29, and each one is getting increasingly generous. We haven’t received any actual counteroffers yet. On Tuesday, Bill Ford and I sat down with the union at the head table for a major proposal. As we walked into the room, we learned that President Fein would not be attending. Nevertheless, Bill and I made a historically generous offer to the UAW Ford bargaining team because we listened to the UAW demands and we care about our workers. Here is the information. Ford:
- Our offer of wage increases has increased significantly;
- Recommended cost of living adjustment, or COLA;
- Wage levels are completely eliminated so all employees can earn industry-leading wages – and the time it takes hourly employees to reach top wages is reduced from eight years to four;
- Increased contributions to in-progression retirement savings;
- Protected health care benefits that continue to rank in the top 1% of all employer-sponsored medical plans for the lowest employee cost sharing; And
- More paid time off with five weeks vacation per year and 17 paid holidays (including Juneteenth).
We first learned that the president received the fine offer this evening on Facebook Live. So again, we are here and ready to reach an agreement. We should work creatively to solve difficult problems rather than planning strikes and public relations events. Please remember that Ford, more than any other company, bet on the UAW and treated the UAW with respect. We have been incredibly supportive of the union. We have gone beyond any treaty language on adding jobs and investment. The future of our industry is at stake. Let’s do what we can to avoid a disastrous outcome.