The United Auto Workers union intends to go on strike at three factories located in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri starting at midnight on Thursday, unless a last-minute agreement is reached with Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
On a live stream on Thursday evening, UAW President Shawn Fain stated that the initial focus of the strike would be on GM’s Wentzville Assembly facility in Missouri, Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly in Ohio, and Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Michigan.
According to Fain, workers at other locations affiliated with the union will remain employed without a contract for the immediate future. He also stated that the strike will specifically affect the final assembly and painting departments at the Ford facility.
The potential strike would be the first to occur simultaneously at all three major automakers in Detroit. Initially, the strike would only affect the three facilities instead of the entire union, which would lessen its immediate economic consequences. However, it would also put pressure on President Joe Biden to address the situation and prevent a complete work stoppage, especially as his reelection campaign gains momentum.
Fain stated that this approach will keep the companies uncertain, providing our national negotiators with the most leverage and room to maneuver during bargaining. He also mentioned that if necessary, they will fully commit to this approach.
Fain suggested that other members should be prepared to participate in the work stoppage at any time, but did not make clear what the union’s next actions would be.
He stated that all possibilities are still being considered. The decision on when and where to proceed with additional strike action will be made by national leaders.
Ford released a statement on Thursday evening, stating that the UAW had submitted their first counterproposal at 8 p.m. However, the carmaker noted that there was little change from the union’s initial demands.
Ford stated that if the proposal is put into action, it would increase their current UAW-related labor expenses by more than two times. This is noteworthy as Ford’s labor costs are already considerably higher than foreign-owned automakers such as Tesla and Toyota in the United States, who use non-unionized labor.
No comment was given by GM and Stellantis.
The facility in Wentzville has a workforce of 4,100 individuals and specializes in manufacturing medium-sized trucks and large vans, such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Express, and the GMC Canyon and Savana. Stellantis Toledo, on the other hand, has a staff of 4,420 employees and is responsible for producing the Jeep Gladiator and Jeep Wrangler, including its electric model, the Wrangler 4xe.
Ford Michigan has a workforce of 4,900 individuals and manufactures the Ford Ranger and Bronco vehicles. It is uncertain how many of the workers at each specific plant are members of the UAW or how many employees are involved in the final assembly and painting processes at Ford Michigan.
The Toledo plant owned by Stellantis and the Michigan facility owned by Ford are situated in counties that supported Biden in the 2020 election. On the other hand, GM’s Wentzville plant is located in a county that heavily favored former President Trump. None of these states are considered “right-to-work” states, making it easier for unions to organize.
This report was a collaborative effort by Nick Niedzwiadek, Olivia Olander, and Tanya Snyder.