News Story

Report: UAW spokesman seeks ‘reputation damage’ of automakers in negotiations

Detroit News report finds ill intent expressed in text messages

A text message string obtained by Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes reveals that the UAW isn’t just seeking a good deal in its negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The union seeks reputational damage to automakers slow to reach a deal.

Such an approach contradicts UAW President Shawn Fain’s guidance to union members that they not disparage the company they’re seeking a deal from. Before Sept. 15, when the UAW’s contracts with the Big Three automakers expired at the same time, the union published a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for practice picket sessions, which is pictured below.

Howes reports:

In a series of text messages obtained by The Detroit News from a private group chat on the former Twitter platform X, a close aide to Fain writes that union negotiators are using bargaining sessions to inflict “recurring reputations damage and operational chaos” on the Detroit automakers. “(I)f we can keep them wounded for months they don’t know what to do. The beauty is we’ve laid it all out in the public and they’re still helpless to stop it.”

Those messages weren’t sent by a low-level worker, Howes reports, but the union’s communications director, Jonah Furman.

When Howes asked Furman about the texts, he said they were “private messages” that “you shouldn’t have.” That day, he left the group chat after complaining of leaks to the press, Howes reports.

When Howes asked a union spokesman about the remarks, he was redirected back to Furman.

The three automakers expressed various levels of disappointment in the remarks.

“It’s now clear that the UAW leadership has always intended to cause months-long disruption, regardless of the harm it causes to its members and their communities,” GM told Howes in a statement. “The leaked information calls into question who is actually in charge of UAW strategy and shows a callous disregard for the seriousness of what is at stake.”

Ford called the remarks “disturbing.” Stellantis called them “incredibly disturbing.”

Fain has warned that if “significant progress” is not made toward a deal by Friday at noon, the strike will expand beyond the three facilities targeted so far.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.