Negotiations between United Auto Workers (UAW) and Detroit-Three automakers returned to a standstill as union chief Shawn Fain and President Biden clashed over the organization’s impending strike.
United Auto Workers rebuffed Ford’s contract proposal over Labor Day weekend for failing to meet the union’s demands, pushing talks back to square one. President Fain addressed auto workers in a live-streamed event on Saturday, September 2, where he criticized the car manufacturer for attempting to implement new rules around temporary workers and offering a wage increase of 9% (15% including benefit improvements), substantially lower than the 46% sought by UAW members. “In inflation-adjusted dollars, our starting pay today is $10 an hour less than what it was in 2007…Ford’s wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth.” Fain went on to note that the remaining Big-Three manufacturers, General Motors and Stellantis, had yet to submit counteroffers. The organization filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the two OEMs last Friday.
The deadline for United Auto Workers leaders and automaker executives to reach an agreement is September 14, when the current union contract expires. Although UAW members have already voted to strike if negotiations fail, President Biden dismissed the concern ahead of a Labor Day parade in Philadelphia. “No, I’m not worried about a strike until it happens,” he said to reporters. “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Fain expressed shock over the President’s statements. “He must know something we don’t know,” he remarked, speaking to The Detroit News. “Our intent is not to strike…But as we get down to the wire here, there’s three companies to bargain with and there’s 10 days left to do it. So I know what it looks like to me.”
United Auto Workers members have been preparing to strike for several weeks. Recently, Fain led the union in a mock demonstration outside of a Stellantis facility. “Today, I want you guys to have some fun practicing for what we’re going to have to do if these companies don’t give us our fair share,” the UAW chief proclaimed.