Before the union’s deadline of Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET, the United Auto Workers, or UAW, and the automakers were unable to come to a contract deal. The plants where union members would go on strike if a tentative agreement couldn’t be reached in time were revealed by UAW president Shawn Fain less than two hours before the deadline. By Friday at midnight, there were roughly 12,700 union workers, including those at the GM facility in Wentzville, Missouri; Stellantis in Toledo, Ohio; and the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan.
The union is engaging in a “stand-up” strike, in which not every union member strikes simultaneously.
Shortly after the strike was announced, Fain sent a message to UAW’s email list.
“A few minutes ago, thousands of UAW members at Ford, GM, and Stellantis walked out, marking the beginning of the Stand Up Strike,” his note read.
“This conflict is the turning point for our generation. Not just at the Big Three, but throughout the entire working class,” he continued, adding, “We will stand up for ourselves. We’ll speak out on behalf of our families. We’ll defend our neighbourhoods.
A Stellantis spokeswoman expressed the company’s disappointment in not reaching an agreement in a statement that was published as the strike got underway.
“The UAW leadership’s failure to act responsibly in order to negotiate a fair agreement in the best interests of our members, their families, and our clients deeply disappoints us. We immediately put the company into emergency mode, and we will make the necessary structural choices to safeguard both the company and our North American activities.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, the UAW and the companies remained far apart on key demands, such as wage increases and the length of the workweek.
The union demanded a 46% pay increase combined over the four-year duration of a new contract, as well as a 32-hour workweek at 40-hour pay.
On Thursday, General Motors and Ford presented offers that would provide employees with a 20% pay raise throughout the course of the agreement; the most recent offer from Stellantis contains a total pay increase of 17.5%. The 40-hour workweek was kept in each company’s offer.
As the strike approached on Thursday, the Ford Motor Company issued a statement saying that the UAW’s counterproposal “showed little movement from the union’s initial demands submitted Aug. 3.”
The corporation issued a statement saying that the union “made clear that unless we agreed to its unsustainable terms, it plans a work stoppage at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.” “Ford has bargained in good faith to prevent a strike, which could have significant effects on our economy,”
The automaker said it “remains absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards” employees “and protects Ford’s ability to invest in the future” during a time of transformation.