DETROIT (FOX 2) - The stage is set for an historic strike if the autoworkers union and Detroit's auto manufacturers can't reach a deal by midnight Thursday. Based on comments from the UAW president Wednesday, factory workers for Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, it's unlikely the two parties will reach an agreement.
Experts predict billions in losses if the strike lasts even 10 days.
But what a potential strike looks like will be different from collective bargaining impasses in the past. Shawn Fain said leadership will picket at different plants from each of the Big Three companies. From there, they could scale up the size of the protest based on how negotiations are going for each of the companies.
The UAW is calling it a "Stand Up Strike."
"We will not strike all of our facilities at once," Fain said during a Wednesday live stream. "We will strike all three companies, a historic first. Initially at a limited number of targeted locations that we will be announcing. Then based on what’s happening in bargaining, we’re going to announce more locals that are going to be called to stand up and strike."
The first announcements will go out at 10 p.m. Thursday.
Then on Friday, where negotiators will be alongside picketers instead of in bargaining rooms, a rally is scheduled in downtown Detroit at the UAW's headquarters. It's scheduled to start an hour before the auto show's charity preview, which will be just down the street.
Fain called on membership be "maintaining a constant strike readiness."
One autoworker who spoke with FOX 2 said he's absolutely ready to picket.
"Over the past almost 17 years of my 25 years it’s went from ‘we were treated like gold to now we are the bottom of the barrel while they’re making $22 million dollars’ hanging out in their Mexico villas and we’re up here breaking our backs just to try to feed our kids and then with inflation and they don’t want to give us any cost of living," said Charles Wade.
Wade works on the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
Cost of living adjustments that he mentioned are among the sticking points for autoworkers. So is wages, benefits, and tiers.
All three automakers have offered statements with varying degrees of hope about a breakthrough:
We’re still awaiting the UAW’s response to the offer we presented yesterday. Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to have a tentative agreement on the table before the collective bargaining agreement expires.
We want to let you know that we continue to bargain directly and in good faith and have presented additional strong offers to the UAW. We are making progress in key areas that we believe are most important to you. This includes historic guaranteed annual wage increases, investments in our U.S. manufacturing plants to provide opportunities for all and shortening the time for in-progression employees to reach maximum wages.
Our goal remains to reach an agreement before the expiration of the current contract.
We know that best-in-class manufacturing is our competitive advantage, and that's thanks to you. We are incredibly enthusiastic about our products, our technologies, and our customer engagement. Anything that disrupts what we can deliver to our customers is a setback for all of us. We came through the pandemic and other recent challenges with critical business momentum, and together we can keep it going. We can all win.
The Ford team continues to put 100% of our energy into reaching an agreement with the UAW that rewards our valued employees and allows the company to invest in the future. If there is a strike, it’s not because Ford didn’t make a great offer. We have and that’s what we can control. In fact, we have put four offers on the table starting Aug. 29 and each one has been increasingly generous. We still have not received any genuine counteroffer. On Tuesday, Bill Ford and I sat down with the union at the main table for a major offer. As we were walking in the room, we learned President Fain would not be attending. Nevertheless, Bill and I laid out a historically generous offer to the UAW Ford bargaining team because we listened to the UAW demands and we care about our employees. Here are the facts. Ford:
- Significantly increased our proposal on wage increases;
- Offered Cost of Living Adjustments, or COLA;
- Fully eliminated wage tiers so all employees can achieve industry-leading wages – and shortened to four from eight years the time it takes hourly employees to reach the top wage;
- Increased contributions to in-progression retirement savings;
- Protected health care benefits that would continue to rank in the top 1% of all employersponsored medical plans for lowest employee cost sharing; and
- Added more paid time off, with up to five weeks of vacation and 17 paid holidays each year (with the addition of Juneteenth).
The first we learned President Fain received the offer was on Facebook Live this evening. So again, we are here and ready to reach a deal. We should be working creatively to solve hard problems rather than planning strikes and PR events. Please remember that Ford, more than any other company, has bet on the UAW and treated the UAW with respect. We have been incredibly supportive of the union. We have gone well beyond any contract language in adding jobs and investment. The future of our industry is at stake. Let’s do everything we can to avert a disastrous outcome.