UAW workers struggle with strike pay, picking up extra jobs amid Big Three stalemate

A big shock for Ford Motor Company as the United Auto Workers hits them hard. Nearly 9,000 workers walked off the job at their Kentucky truck plant - their largest and most profitable facility in the world.

Ford says the move is irresponsible, but not surprising. The surprise move came as workers on the picket line continue to struggle to make ends meet on just $500 a week.

When he’s not on the picket lines with his UAW brothers and sisters at Ford Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Clint Washington is trying to get through the tough times.

"It’s been a struggle mentally, financially," he said. "Just trying to make a way every day."

At least now he has some help from his little buddy, Freddie.

"I just picked him up yesterday and I needed him in my life as a support animal," said Washington. "I got to figure out how to get him registered as that so that way he can be with me to support me during these hard times mentally."

Washington is like so many picketing workers living on just $500 a week on strike pay, with no end in sight to the stalemate between the UAW and Big Three.

"It’s tough," he said. "Tough trying to figure out how I’m going to pay my rent, how I’m going to pay my car note (and) and how I’m going to pay my car insurance. Put groceries in my house."

He’s now working at Taco Bell and driving for Uber just to make ends meet. And he does the math over and over.

Related: UAW expands strike to Ford Truck plant in Kentucky

"Just so I can just put all these dollars in place, so I can put these bills in place and figure out how I can pay this one and not be broke this week, and pay that one and still have some money that week," he said. "And put these two savings together from those two checks and pay that third bill. I mean come on."

In the meantime UAW President Shawn Fain is upping the pressure on the automakers, with a surprise strike at Ford’s Kentucky plant.

"This will bring at Ford the amount of production that they’ve had affected close to 34 percent of their total production," said Marick Masters.

Masters, a Wayne State University business professor, says UAW leadership still has some big punches to pull, and Fain might just announce some of those in yet another Facebook Live update scheduled for Friday morning.

"I think what he’s trying to do is put the other two companies in a position where they can make a counteroffer between now and Friday to try and avert that," Masters said. "And if they don’t, he’s probably going to announce strikes.

"He’s already indicated that the Arlington facility at GM that was their target last week, that they averted at the last minute."

Clint Washington

Clint Washington