(The Center Square) – United Auto Worker Union President Shawn Fain gave the Big Three Detroit Automakers a noon deadline on Friday to strike a deal or more workers will walk out of factories.
It’s day four of the first UAW strike in history hitting Ford, Stellantis and General Motors simultaneously. But this time, the strikes target specific plants, dubbed the “stand-up strike,” in which they’re striking about 12,700 of their workers.
Fain said the auto industry is rapidly changing and “workers are being left behind.”
More automakers are building plants in the Southern states, which could eventually threaten the Big Three’s dominance over vehicle manufacturing.
According to the Ann-Arbor-based nonprofit Center for Automotive Research, the U.S. South has captured $67.4 billion in automaker-announced investment from 2017 through August 2023. Of those plans, about $59.5 billion are related to EVs, CAR industry analyst Tyler Harp told The Center Square in an email.
The South is defined as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The Big Three have made $21 billion in profits in the first half of this year, Fain said, and company CEOs have increased their salary by 40%.
“General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $29 million last year, yet a newly-hired factory worker factory at Lordstown, Ohio is making $16.50 an hour,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a Facebook live event last month.
Meanwhile, he said auto worker salaries have grown by 6% over the last four years because of inflation.
“An auto worker today is making less in real wages than we made 20 years ago,” Fain said in a video released Monday night.
Fain wants UAW members to receive a 40% raise over four years, eliminate a tiered pay structure, and have a 32-hour workweek with the same wage as a five-day workweek.
“Record profits mean record contracts,” Fain said.
Fain said car companies are “fleecing” consumers, with the average price of a new car up by 30%.
“We’re taking a stand against corporate greed,” Fain said. “We’re taking a stand against inequality.”
The UAW had an $825 million strike fund to pay members. By targeting and disrupting assembly at select factories while other members still work, the union can stretch the strike fund much longer relative to calling all workers to strike at once.
The strike is disrupting work in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. In 2019, the UAW went on strike for 40 days.