UAW President Shawn Fain has called for an additional 7,000 workers to go on strike as the United Auto Workers union continues its strike against the Big Three carmakers. The work stoppages have expanded to a General Motors plant in Lansing, Michigan, and a Ford plant in Chicago. Despite ongoing negotiations, Fain stated that Ford and GM have refused to make meaningful progress at the bargaining table. This brings the total number of striking autoworkers to 25,000, which accounts for 17% of the UAW’s approximately 146,000 members.
The UAW’s demands include a 36% pay increase across a four-year contract, annual cost-of-living adjustments, pension benefits for all employees, greater job security, restrictions on the use of temporary workers, and a four-day work week. The union is also seeking the elimination of a two-tiered wage system adopted by the automakers after the 2008 financial crisis. President Joe Biden joined UAW strikers on the picket line, making it an unprecedented move for a sitting U.S. president. The automakers argue that they have made reasonable counteroffers and express concerns that the union’s demands would make it difficult to compete with other car manufacturers.
The UAW’s strike strategy involves weekly waves of strikes, which allow the union to inflict significant disruption while minimizing the number of workers not receiving paychecks. The Chicago and Lansing workers will be paid through the UAW’s $825 million strike fund. Both sides have engaged in a war of words, with Ford CEO Jim Farley accusing Fain of seeking media attention and Fain firing back by referencing State Farm’s popular corporate tagline. GM officials claim that the UAW launched more strikes just for headlines and accused the union of not responding to their latest counteroffer.