UAW wins strike authorization as contract talks continue
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Just days after the Teamsters ratified their contract with UPS, United Auto Workers at the big three carmakers overwhelmingly approved a strike if contract negotiations fail.
The head of the UAW visited Louisville to rally workers facing their contract ending in the next 20 days.
The UAW’s main demands included a 46% pay raise, a shorter work week, and an end to a contract that allows certain employees to be paid less than others.
Union membership just approved a strike authorization if Ford, GM, and Stellantis don’t agree to an acceptable deal for the union when the contract ends mid-September.
Practicing for a potential strike, UAW members marched a picket line outside UAW headquarters near Ford’s assembly plant.
“Our members made a lot of sacrifices,” International UAW President Shawn Fain said. “Our retirees made a lot of sacrifices, and those sacrifices made 14 years ago are still sitting there.”
He explained the UAW’s demands are to catch up after years of profits earned by the big three automakers that have not gone back to members. Part of their demands are to end concessions the UAW approved during the auto crisis in 2008.
“As the companies have made a quarter of a trillion dollars, our workers haven’t came back from that,” Fain said.
Members ate up the message before heading to their picket line practice. A 46 percent wage increase, matching pay raises for CEO’s. An end to tiered contracts, allowing some workers to make less than others, and a promise to include UAW workers as the automakers retool for electric vehicles.
“Instead of partnering with us and forming joint ventures, and our members having the right to flow into those jobs, and those jobs being at our standards, they formed joint ventures,” Fain said. “And they left us out.”
Teamsters representatives promised not to load cars onto trucks or trains if the UAW goes on strike. Fain said the union expects a deal from all the automakers by September 14.
“Whatever the hell is good enough for the CEOs of these corporations is good enough for us,” Fain said.
GM said a 40-day strike in 2019 cost $3.6 billion in earnings.
However, if the 150,000 UAW workers are as motivated as the group in Louisville Friday afternoon, the threat of a strike is real.
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