News Story

UAW says it is ‘strike-ready,’ supported by 97% of members

Sept. 14 ‘is a deadline, not a reference point,’ union president warns as practice pickets begin

The Michigan auto industry could come grinding to a halt next month. The United Autoworkers union announced Friday that 97% of its members had assented to a strike if terms on a new contract with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis could not be reached by Sept. 14.

“I’ve told the companies repeatedly that September 14 is a deadline, not a reference point,” wrote UAW President Shawn Fain on the union’s website. “Let’s show them that we are united and ready to back up those words with collective action!”

Fain has taken a hard line in negotiations, refusing to shake hands with auto executives at the symbolic start of negotiations, and ripping up the Stellantis contract offer on-camera.

“The Big Three have made massive profits for more than a decade,” Fain wrote. “But while CEOs got rich, UAW members got left behind. Our message to the Big Three is simple: Record profits mean record contracts.”

Among the points of contention is a belief that the American autoworkers will be left behind in the transition to electric vehicles. EV batteries take fewer parts and require less labor. If the entire auto industry transitioned to electric vehicles overnight, experts predict there would be about one-third fewer jobs.

UAW members have started “practice pickets” in Louisville, Kentucky, and were joined there by Fain.

“The campaign for a strong contract at the Big Three is taking off,” read a UAW post announcing nearly unanimous support for a strike. “UAW members and allies have started spontaneously organizing grassroots actions around the country and UAW President Shawn Fain is strongly encouraging them.”

The union released a number of “dos and don’s” for the practice pickets.

Among the don’ts: “Don’t get arrested — remember, this is just practice!”

Others include not calling the practice picket a strike, not encouraging public boycotts, and not disparaging the employer.

On the do list: Do report for work, and do keep a clean picket area.

The UAW has a strike fund built up to pay members $500 per week in the event of a strike.

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.