News Story

UAW president threatens to escalate strike

Fain sets Sept. 22 deadline, warns that strike will expand

The United Auto Workers strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis so far includes only about 10% of the union’s 150,000 members.

But the strike will escalate if “serious progress” is not made toward a new contract by noon Friday, UAW President Shawn Fain warned in a video posted to Twitter Monday night.

Fain describes the “stand-up strike” as the modern answer to the sit-down strike of 1937 in Flint. In the sit-down strike, factory workers sat down and refused to work. In the stand-up strike, specific units are called on to “stand up” and go on strike.

Friday’s strike started with three plants: Wentzville Assembly. a General Motors facility in Missouri; Toledo Assembly, a Stellantis facility in Ohio, and Michigan Assembly, a Ford facility in Wayne. More than 12,000 workers are on strike, according to media reports.

“Just as importantly the rest of you stayed on the job,” Fain said. “That’s the only way the strategy works.”

But the new approach to striking could soon look like the old approach if targeted strikes become mass strikes.

For the first time in UAW history, members are on strike against the entire Big Three at once.  

“We’re not going to keep waiting around forever as they drag this out,” Fain said. “If we don't make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22, more locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike.”

See Fain’s video for yourself here:

In the meantime, Fain said striking workers would remain on strike.

The UAW’s terms include a 46% salary hike, the elimination of wage tiers from previous contracts, and a four-day work week. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said “serious discussions” should take place about the 32-hour work week proposal — not just in the UAW negotiation, but nationwide.

“As a nation, we should begin a serious discussion — and the UAW is doing that — about substantially lowering the workweek,” Sanders said Sunday on CNN.

Sanders endorsed robots and artificial intelligence as an answer to the productivity lost by a shorter work week.

“We are looking at an explosion in this country of artificial intelligence and robotics. And that means that the average worker is going to be much more productive. Worker productivity is going to increase significantly,” Sanders said.

Sanders, a former Democratic presidential contender, came to Detroit for the start of the strike last Friday.

“This is our generation’s defining moment,” Fain said to close out the video. “So be ready to stand up.” 

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.