Showing posts with label UAW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UAW. Show all posts

Friday, September 15, 2023

'This Is Our Defining Moment': UAW Launches Historic Strikes Against Big Three Automakers

"The money is there, the cause is righteous, the world is watching, and the UAW is ready to stand up," said Shawn Fain, the union's president.

The United Auto Workers union kicked off historic strikes against the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers early Friday morning after the companies failed to meet workers' demands for adequate pay increases and benefit improvements.

The initial wave of strikes hit select Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis facilities, with the union deploying a tactic it has described as a " stand-up strike."

UAW members at General Motors' Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, Ford's Michigan Assembly, and Stellantis' Toledo Assembly in Ohio were the first to walk off the job on Friday, and additional locals will be called on to strike in the coming days as negotiations continue.

Those who remain on the job will be working under an expired collective bargaining agreement, though they still have status quo protections.

The labor actions mark the first time the UAW has ever gone on strike against all three major automakers simultaneously.

"We've been working hard, trying to reach a deal for economic and social justice for our members," UAW president Shawn Fain said in a speech late Thursday, just ahead of the midnight strike deadline. "We have been firm. We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies."

"The money is there, the cause is righteous, the world is watching, and the UAW is ready to stand up," Fain added. "This is our defining moment."

The companies' latest publicized offers to the UAW included raises of up to 20% over the course of a four-year contract, but the proposals thus far have fallen well short of the union's demands on wages, cost-of-living adjustments, retiree benefits, and other key issues.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, who brought in nearly $21 million in total compensation last year, told CNN that the UAW's push for a near-40% wage increase would "put us out of business," a claim that Fain dismissed as a "joke."

"The cost of labor for a vehicle is 5% of the vehicle," Fain said from the picket line outside Ford's Michigan Assembly plant. "They could double our wages and not raise the prices of vehicles, and they would still make billions of dollars. It's a lie like everything else that comes out of their mouths."

Between 2013 and 2022, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis released this week, the Big Three automakers saw roughly $250 billion in total profits—an increase of 92%—and the companies' CEOs received a 40% pay increase. The automakers also rewarded shareholders with $66 billion in dividend payouts and stock buybacks.

U.S. autoworkers' wages, meanwhile, have declined by over 19% since the car industry's 2008 crisis, during which workers gave up cost-of-living adjustments and other benefits to help keep the major automakers afloat.

"As a single parent, I'm working paycheck to paycheck," Adelisa LeBron, a striking Ford worker, toldThe Washington Post. "I love the way Shawn is fighting for us, how he's not going to settle."

In his address late Thursday, Fain urged locals that are not currently on strike to "keep organizing" to "show the companies you are ready to join the stand-up strike at a moment's notice."

"This strategy will keep the companies guessing," he said. "It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table."

On Friday evening, the UAW is planning to hold what Fain dubbed a "mass rally" outside of a Ford building in downtown Detroit, where U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to appear.

"We must show the world that our fight is a righteous fight," said Fain.

This article originally appeared at on September 15th, 2023.  


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Thursday, September 14, 2023

In two days, 144,000 US autoworkers workers are set to strike

The master contract for 144,000 unionized workers expires on September 14. Workers are ready to strike the three largest automakers in the nation

September 12, 2023 by Natalia Marques

At midnight on Thursday, the master contract for 144,000 US autoworkers employed at the three largest car manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis) will expire. 

Workers have been preparing for months for this moment, using the UPS Teamsters’ historic contract win as inspiration. The United Auto Workers, which represents the 144,000 workers employed at the “Big Three” automakers, has organized grassroots actions such as practice pickets. This year’s contract campaign is the first mobilization of the rank-and-file union members for contract negotiations in the union’s history.

The Big Three have already rejected key demands such as the cost of living adjustment (raises tied directly to inflation, dubbed COLA). In a September 8 update, UAW President Shawn Fain revealed that Stellantis and Ford proposed lump-sum bonuses that exclude certain workers rather than COLA. Ford’s proposal does tie wage increases to inflation but only when inflation goes up by a very high threshold, which would mean no COLA raises for the next four years. 

That’s not COLA. That’s not even Diet COLA. That’s Coke Zero,” said Fain on September 8.

The companies have only put forward new counter proposals this past weekend, writes Luiz Feliz Leon in Labor Notes, although even these fall far short of what workers want. “It’s unfortunate the companies have waited until the last moments to get focused on the needs of 150,000 autoworkers, our families, and our communities,” said Fain on Monday.

In 2022, in the first direct election in UAW for top officers, union members elected current President Shawn Fain, who has been trailblazing a path for radical change within the union. Fain is determined to abandon the model of concessions to the Big Three that UAW leadership has pursued for decades, and win back the victories of the socialist-influenced UAW of the 1930s and 40s. The UAW’s demands such as a 32-hour workweek, raises tied to inflation, the elimination of tiers which divide workers, and the ending of plant closures, reflect the goals of a new iteration of leadership.

Autoworkers are ready to strike. UAW has USD 825 million in its strike fund to makesure that workers can make do without pay. Last month, 97% of workers at the Big Three voted to authorize a strike. In two days, this could very well become a reality—the first time autoworkers at all of the “Big Three” strike at once.

A battle for all workers

If they manage to win their demands before September 14 (President Fain has made it clear that backing down from demands is not an option), UAW workers will raise standards for the entire US working class, currently in the depths of economic despair

If a potential strike is not averted, UAW workers will embark on a battle not only for their set of very radical demands but against some of the most powerful elements of capitalism itself. In a recent report at Truthout, Derek Seidman labeled the Big Three the “three-headed behemoth of big capital.” Seidman’s report reveals the links between the leadership of the largest automakers in the country to some of the most notorious union busting corporations in the country, including Amazon and Walmart, as well as to the tools and masterminds of US imperialism such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the top weapons producers (General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin) that bloat the US military budget.

As Seidman writes, “GM CEO Mary Barra herself served on the board of General Dynamics, the fifth-biggest US defense company, from 2011 to 2017, during which she was compensated in the millions. GM Director Thomas Schoewe currently serves as a director of Northrop Grumman, the third-biggest US defense company. GM Director Wesley G. Bush is the former head of Northrop Grumman, serving as CEO until 2018 and chairman until 2019. Another GM director, Linda R. Good, is the retired executive vice president of Information Systems and Global Solutions at Lockheed Martin, the top US defense company.”

In 2022, General Motors CEO Mary Barra made USD 29 million in total compensation, Ford CEO Jim Farley made over USD 55 million from 2020 to 2022, and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares made nearly USD 23.5 million in 2022. 

“Our wages have increased by less than 12% since 2007. Adjusted for inflation, Big 3 workers are earning $9/hour LESS than we were 15 years ago,” writes the UAW reform organization, Unite All Workers for Democracy, in a contract campaign leaflet.  “Are you ready to take on the companies and win what we deserve?”

This article originally appeared at on September 12th, 2023.  

Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

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