The United Auto Workers (UAW) on Friday has expanded its strike against the Big Three U.S. automakers to 38 General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution centers across the United States, bringing the total factories on strike up to 41.
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Ford Motor Co. is spared from the expansion of the strike as its negotiations with the union will continue.
Some 5,600 workers at those facilities spanning 20 states walked off their jobs on Friday, joining the 12,700 workers already on UAW's strike, said UAW President Shawn Fain during a Facebook live event on Friday.
This expansion has taken the strike nationwide, Fain said. "We will be everywhere, from California to Massachusetts, from Oregon to Florida. And we will keep going, keep organizing, and keep expanding the Stand-Up Strike as necessary."
"Across the country, people are gonna know that the UAW is ready to stand up for our communities, and ready to stand up against corporate greed," he added.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he will go to Michigan on Tuesday to "join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create," according to a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
In response to the union's latest action, GM issued a statement Friday saying "the decision to strike an additional 18 of our facilities, affecting more than 3,000 team members plus their families and communities, adds validity to the blueprint identified in last night's leaked texts that the UAW leadership is manipulating the bargaining process for their own personal agendas."
GM says it is "prepared to do what is best for our business, our customers, and our dealers."
"We question whether the union's leadership has ever had an interest in reaching an agreement in a timely manner. They seem more concerned about pursuing their own political agendas than negotiating in the best interests of our employees and the sustainability of our U.S. operations given the market's fierce competition," Stellantis said in its statement Friday.
Stellantis on Thursday made a "very competitive offer" to the union that would give full time hourly workers a 21.4 percent compounded wage increase, a "long-term solution" for the automaker's idled Belvidere plant, and "significant product allocation."
"We still have not received a response to that offer," Stellantis said in the statement. "We look forward to the UAW leadership's productive engagement so that we can bargain in good faith to reach an agreement that will protect the competitiveness of our company and our ability to continue providing good jobs."
The union's strike originally just targeted three plants, namely, Ford's Wayne Assembly Plant in Michigan, GM's Wentzville Assembly in Missouri and Stellantis' Toledo Jeep plant in Ohio.
An expanding strike will make things worse.
GM has idled its Fairfax plant in Kansas where 2,000 hourly employees work, as a result of the impact of the UAW strike at its Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri.
Stellantis on Wednesday laid off 68 workers at its machining plant as a result of a strike at its Toledo Jeep plant in Ohio. Ford laid off about 600 workers last week at its Wayne plant.
After almost a week of negotiations, it appears the union and the Big Three are still far apart on some key issues, The Detroit News reported Friday.
In an opinion piece published by local media on Wednesday, GM President Mark Reuss called the UAW demands "untenable," saying GM's offer would bring 85 percent of the company's represented employees to a base wage of about 82,000 dollars a year.
UAW Vice President Mike Booth, also director of the union's GM department, nevertheless responded on Thursday, saying the union was fighting for all 100 percent of its members. ■