Shortly after the union intensified the strike, which has now entered its third week, the CEOs of GM and Ford criticized Union Auto Workers leaders. In response, UAW chief Shawn Fain expanded the first-ever simultaneous strike against the Detroit Three, instructing workers to walk off the job at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant and GM’s Lansing, Michigan, assembly plant, with Stellantis being spared after last-minute concessions by the Chrysler parent. GM CEO Mary Barra expressed doubts about the genuine intent to reach an agreement, stating, “It’s clear that there is no real intent to get to an agreement.” Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the union of holding a deal “hostage” over a dispute regarding future electric vehicle battery plants.
In response, the UAW highlighted that neither CEO attended bargaining this week and criticized their substantial earnings, noting, “And yet, Barra and Farley made a combined $50 million dollars last year.” Farley claimed that the UAW demands could severely impact their business, focusing on wages and benefits at upcoming electric vehicle battery plants.
A dispute arose when Farley accused UAW’s Jim Fain of dishonesty about the state of negotiations, emphasizing Farley’s absence from bargaining. Fain responded, stating, “I don’t know why Jim Farley is lying about the state of negotiations. It could be because he failed to show up for bargaining this week, as he has for most of the past 10 weeks,” as reported by Reuters. GM CEO Mary Barra accused Fain of unnecessarily prolonging the strike and attempting to make history for himself with the action, pledging not to jeopardize the company’s future.
Differences outlined by Fain include retirement benefits and job guarantees at Ford. The count of individuals on picket lines has now reached 25,000, constituting about 17% of the union’s members at the three automakers, according to Reuters. On Friday, the United Auto Workers union escalated its strikes against Detroit automakers by instructing an additional 7,000 workers in Illinois and Michigan to join the strike. This move is strategically designed to increase pressure on the companies to enhance their proposals. This marks the second occasion of the union expanding the strikes, which initially commenced two weeks ago at three assembly plants. The recent expansion includes a Ford plant in Chicago and a General Motors factory near Lansing. Although automakers have expressed willingness to provide salary increases, they voice concerns that a contract with elevated costs could result in their vehicles being priced higher than those produced at nonunion facilities in the United States, operated by foreign corporations.