(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 ABC News’ 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.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Farley said that Ford has put four offers on the table since Aug. 29 but has not received “any genuine counteroffer.”
“If there is a strike, it’s not because Ford didn’t make a great offer. We have and that’s what we can control,” he said, adding that Ford is “here and ready to reach a deal.”
General Motors execs said in a statement Wednesday night, “We are making progress in key areas that we believe are most important to you. This includes historic guaranteed annual wage increases, investments in our U.S. manufacturing plants to provide opportunities for all and shortening the time for in-progression employees to reach maximum wages.”
Continuing, “Our goal remains to reach an agreement before the expiration of the current contract.”
Stellantis said in a statement Wednesday that the company is waiting to receive UAW’s response to an offer it presented on Tuesday.
“Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to have a tentative agreement on the table before the collective bargaining agreement expires,” Stellantis said.
Fain told GMA on Wednesday 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.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.