Roughly 13,000 United Auto Workers members walked off the job at three assembly plants in three different states, including Michigan, as the union and Detroit’s Big 3 automakers failed to reach new agreements before the Sept. 14 at 11:59 p.m. deadline.
Workers started picketing early Friday morning at Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Mich., a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, and a General Motors plant in Wentzville, Missouri. UAW President Shawn Fain revealed in a Facebook Live stream Thursday night that union members working without a contract at other plants could also strike depending on how negotiations continue to proceed.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared on several TV news programs on Friday, stating GM had an “historic” offer on the table for the UAW.
“I think we have an offer that resonates with our people,” Barra told CNN, sharing that the offer includes pay raises up to 21%, increased job security and expanded healthcare. “Our team is ready to be at the table… and we need UAW leadership to get back to the table so we can get these issues resolved and get people back to work.”
Barra also spoke to CNBC stating that job security shouldn’t be an issue since GM vehicles are in high demand.
“Our GM team members who are representing have told me time and time again that job security is very important to them,” said Barra. “How you get job security is making sure you have beautifully designed cars, trucks and crossovers that people want to buy. We have those right now for all. All of our vehicles are in strong demand, both our (internal combustion engine) portfolio and our EV portfolios, so we got to get back to work so we don’t lose ground.”
In a message to employees on Thursday, Barra said the automaker is making fair offers to the union.
“Despite the rhetoric from some of the UAW, our negotiating team has been focused on delivering an offer that enables you to participate fully in the company’s success and provides the security of a strong GM by enabling us to continue to invest to bring everyone along.”
GM has increased its salary and paid time off proposals, but is maintaining a two-tier wage system, which is a non-starter for UAW membership.
Union leaders want pay raises, 32-hour work weeks and better retiree pensions, among other demands.
WDET reporter Russ McNamara contributed to this story.
Editor’s note: Some employees of WDET are members of UAW Local 1979 — a different bargaining group that’s unaffected by these negotiations.