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Auto union president says they may strike all 3 automakers 'at once' as deadline nears

ABC News

(DETROIT) — As the strike deadline set by the United Auto Workers union approaches, the union’s president said that, for the first time in history, they are prepared to strike all three automakers at once.

“We’re going to be doing things differently this time around,” the union’s president, Shawn Fain, said during an update on social media Wednesday evening. “First of all, for the first time in our history, we may strike all three of the Big Three at once.”

“Our message to the companies was clear, if we don’t have a fair contract by midnight on Thursday night, we will strike,” he continued.

Fain said that he will announce at 10 p.m. ET Thursday on Facebook Live which local unions are being asked to go on strike, calling it a “stand up strike.”

That plan, if it happens, will be unprecedented in union history. According to Professor Erik Gordon at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, “Surgical attacks to cripple all three auto companies at lower cost to the UAW is a new, probably powerful tactic.”

Fain said in his latest update that they are “making progress” in the ongoing contract negotiations with each automaker — but are “still very far apart on our key priorities.”

“From job security to ending tiers, from cost of living allowance to wage increases, we do not yet have offers on the table that reflect the sacrifice and contributions our members have made to these companies,” Fain said. “To win, we’re likely going to have to take action.”

The union president told “Good Morning America” earlier Wednesday that negotiations with the Big Three automakers are making “slow” progress, with at least one meeting planned for Wednesday.

“Can we get there? Yes, we can, but they need to buckle down and get busy. We’ve got 48 hours. That’s not a lot of time,” Fain said on “Good Morning America.”

Members in several states have threatened to walk off their jobs in the coming days unless auto companies meet their demands over higher wages and more robust benefits.

The deadline the union has set for negotiations with three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — is midnight ET on Thursday. About 150,000 members work at the three companies.

Such a strike would be “devastating” for the U.S. auto industry and overall economy, Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company, told ABC News on Tuesday evening with just 48 hours to go in negotiations.

“We are putting forth an offer today that’s the most lucrative offer in 80 years working with the UAW,” he said.

Some union members have been struggling as executives “make out like bandits,” Fain said in an earlier statement. “The Big Three have been breaking the bank while we have been breaking our backs.”

Fain on Wednesday said a strike would be more likely to wreck the “billionaire economy,” rather than the overall economy.

“It’s interesting to me all of a sudden the fear mongers get out there and start talking about how this is going to wreck the economy. It’s not going to wreck the economy. It’s going to wreck the billionaire economy,” he said.

He added, “That’s the big issue here. Especially in this country. The working class is living paycheck to paycheck and feeding off the scraps.”

ABC News’ Zunaira Zaki, Meredith Deliso, Imtiyaz Delawala, Anna Katharine Ping, Linsey Davis and Rahma Ahmed contributed to this story.

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