Nearly 25,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) members have gone on strike at several auto factories across the United States, in a move that has forced the closure of three more plants. The UAW President Shawn Fain, announced on Friday that they are expanding the strike, adding 7,000 more employees of Ford and General Motors to join the picket line, as negotiations with the companies have failed to yield any significant progress.
The union, which had already shut down three plants last week, is now targeting Ford’s Chicago assembly plant and GM’s Lansing Delta Township assembly plant. UAW leaders say this reflects their discontent with the lack of meaningful progress at the negotiation table.
“Sadly, despite our willingness to bargain, Ford and GM have refused to make meaningful progress at the table,” Fain said on Friday.
However, in a surprise move, Stellantis, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, was spared from strikes this week. According to Fain, this reflected recent progress in contract talks between the UAW and the company that builds popular brands such as Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles.
The shutdown of the two plants will halt production of several vehicles, but the strike is yet to impact the automakers’ most profitable models—the full-size pickup trucks. Moreover, plants that are key to the supply chain are still not the targets of the work stoppages.
Fain also claimed that this targeted strike approach gives the union a strategic advantage over automakers, creating chaos as the companies cannot predict where the strike will hit next. But it also helps the union to preserve its strike fund, which is currently at $800 million, enough to sustain the workers for about 12 weeks.
So far, the UAW has spent an estimated $28 million on the striking workers, which is a small fraction of the strike fund. And with the expanded strike, the union can bring the automakers to the negotiating table for the long term without depleting its resources.
Meanwhile, UAW leader Shawn Fain has accused the automakers of corporate greed and called this “a war of the working class against corporate greed.” “Our anger is righteous, and our struggle is just,” he added.
It remains to be seen how long the UAW will continue with the strategic expansion of the strike. With a crucial holiday season on the horizon, the automakers will be eager to end the strike and resume production to not adversely affect sales. But the question is, how long can the UAW members hold on?