Detroit Today: What the UAW strike means for Michiganders

The United Auto Workers union officially went on strike at midnight on Sept. 15.

UAW members picket outside Ford's assembly plant on Sept. 15, 2023, in Wayne, Mich.

UAW members picket outside Ford's assembly plant on Sept. 15, 2023, in Wayne, Mich.

About 13,000 United Auto Worker members striked Friday morning — some at a General Motors auto plant in Missouri, others at a Stellantis plant in Ohio, and the rest at a Ford plant in Wayne, Mich.

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The strikes are considered by many to be historic because the union is striking all three automakers at once.

While profits at Ford, GM and Stellantis increased 92% over the last decade to $250 billion, there are also significant changes happening at the Big 3 as they transition from gas to electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, UAW President Shawn Fain’s list of demands include an end to tiered wages, a 40% increase in pay for union members, improving pension benefits and implementing a 32-hour work week.

Ford has countered that their proposal included large wage increases, cost of living adjustments, more paid time off, and additional retirement contributions. GM CEO Mary Barra says her company left an “historic” offer on the table for the UAW and is “frustrated” over the strike.

Both automakers resumed negotiations with the UAW over the weekend. editor Paul Eisenstein and author Steven Greenhouse joined Detroit Today to discuss the impact the current UAW strike will have on the state of Michigan.


Paul Eisenstein is a senior contributing editor of He says the UAW is concerned that the transition to EVs will limit the need for workers themselves, thereby limiting the union’s power.

“The union wants to make sure it has maximum power to negotiate going forward,” says Eisenstein.

Steven Greenhouse is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, and the author of the book “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.” He says the UAW is trying to be more aggressive about its demands, which is a change from union tactics of the last decade.

“Shawn Fain is saying, ‘It’s time for the era of concessions to stop. It’s time for the UAW to stop being on the defensive. It’s time for us to try to turn things around,’” says Greenhouse.

Editor’s note: Some employees of WDET are members of UAW Local 1979 — a different bargaining group that’s unaffected by these negotiations.

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