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UAW gears up for targeted strikes against Detroit automakers

UAW strike

United Auto Workers is preparing for a strike against Detroit automakers as the contract deadline looms.

UAW President Shawn Fain said there would be no extensions for the existing four-year contract with General Motors, Stellanis, and Ford Motor, which is set to end today (Thursday, September 14).

He said: “September 14 is a deadline, not a reference point.”

Read More: UAW Plans Targeted Strikes If Labor Talks With Automakers Fail

Fain said its members will hold limited and targeted walkouts at specific factories, which may escalate if negotiations stall. 

He said members will be informed on Thursday night before a walkout on Friday, September 15.

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This approach differs from the traditional tactic of an all-out strike against a single automaker.

It’s aimed at giving UAW negotiators added leverage while keeping the manufacturers uncertain about the strike's scope and duration.

Striking at select plants would disrupt production for automakers.

However, around 150,000 UAW members at the three companies continued to work and receive paychecks.

Read More: UAW Moves On Wage Demands In Ongoing Talks With Automakers

The union plans to provide striking workers with $500 weekly payments and cover their health insurance premiums.

The union has funded $825 million from the strike.

The war chest could sustain workers’ payments for approximately three months in a full-scale strike against all three companies.

The union's initial proposal demanded a 40 percent pay raise over four years.

It cited a similar rise in chief executive pay packages over the past four years. 

They have also requested regular cost-of-living adjustments to address inflation, pension benefits for all workers, improved retiree benefits, and shorter work hours.

Read More: Stellantis Offers 14.5 Percent Pay Raise To UAW To Avert Possible Strike

They also sought to end the tiered wage system, which starts new hires at nearly half the top UAW wage of $32 per hour.

In response, the companies, negotiating independently with the union, have countered with wage increases roughly half of what the union seeks.

They have made limited progress in addressing other demands.

Companies "ready to reach a deal"

General Motors said: “We continue to bargain directly and in good faith with the U.A.W. and have presented additional strong offers. We are making progress in key areas.”

Ford said it was “ready to reach a deal.”

The company added: “We should be working creatively to solve hard problems rather than planning strikes and P.R. events.”

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Stellantis presented its latest offer to the union on Tuesday, September 14.

The company said: “Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to have a tentative agreement on the table before tomorrow’s deadline.”

Concerns about job losses during the transition to electric vehicles, which require fewer workers for production, add complexity to the negotiations. 

All three automakers heavily invest in electric vehicle technology, battery plants, and factory retooling.

The UAW is also addressing issues related to battery plants that operate with non-union workers.

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