Sep 14, 2023 - News

UAW set to kick off strike of Detroit automakers at midnight

Illustration of a fist holding a wrench.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The United Auto Workers union is ready to strike all the Detroit Three automakers at midnight, an unprecedented move that could disrupt the economy for weeks or more.

Why it matters: The standoff comes amid a global transition toward electric vehicles, with American automakers looking for competitive advantages against non-unionized EV companies like Tesla.

Threat level: A work stoppage at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis would result in an economic loss of more than $5 billion after 10 days, according to Anderson Economic Group.

State of play: Contracts with about 150,000 workers at the three companies expire at 11:59pm.

  • UAW President Shawn Fain has promised a strike if new labor terms aren't agreed to by then.

What they're saying: The union is making progress in negotiations but the sides remain far apart on key priorities, Fain said Thursday during a speech broadcast online.

  • "To win, we're likely going to have to take action," Fain said. "We are preparing to strike these companies in a way they've never seen before."

The latest: Fain revealed a new tactic Thursday called a "stand-up strike" designed to give UAW negotiators maximum leverage.

  • Without a deal at midnight, select local chapters representing workers at all three companies will be called upon to strike.
  • If the impasse progresses, more locals will be called upon to join the stoppage, allowing the strike to grow over time.
  • The UAW would unveil the first locals to strike at 10pm.

Of note: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to join Fain at 5pm Friday for a rally at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center near Hart Plaza.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan clerical workers represented by the UAW on strike against the company along Jefferson Avenue Thursday. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Zoom in: Another UAW strike started downtown Thursday in front of the Renaissance Center — clerical workers at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan who are represented by the union.

  • UAW Local 1781 president and claims processor Tina Gates told Axios the Blue Cross workers are striking for the first time in 30 years. They support the auto workers "1,000%."
  • "We have their backs," Gates tells Axios. "When [auto workers] struck in 2019 … we were there with them, with our brothers and sisters."

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