Michigan has the most plants joining the UAW’s Detroit Three strike
Week two of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike started Friday, with 38 new sites being called to join picket lines after another week of negotiations with Detroit Three auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis failed to result in a deal. Of the now 41 locations on strike across 21 states, 14 are in Michigan.
Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne was the first of three plants called to strike by the UAW at midnight Sept. 15 as the clock ran out on negotiating a new contract with the three auto companies. Along with plants in Ohio and Missouri, about 13,000 workers were on strike.
The strike has made political waves. President Joe Biden announced Friday evening that he will travel to Michigan Tuesday to support striking UAW workers. Former President Donald Trump, whom Biden defeated in 2020, earlier this week said he planned to come to Michigan Wednesday to meet with autoworkers.
Ford has shown since last week that they’re serious about making a deal with the union, UAW President Shawn Fain told members on Facebook Live Friday morning. But it’s not enough to end the strike and General Motors (GM) and Stellantis still have a long way to go.
That’s why Fain announced that workers at GM and Stellantis auto supplier plants were going on strike at noon Friday. The plants are across 20 states, including Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado, West Virginia, Tennessee and Minnesota.
“It’s time to hit the picket lines across the country. It’s time to show the companies we are united and we are fired up and we are ready for a record contract,” Fain said, announcing 38 new strike locations on Friday. “It’s time to stand up against corporate greed. It’s time to stand up for our communities. UAW family, I’ll see you on the picket line.”
No new Ford locations were named to join the strike, although the Michigan Assembly Plant is still on strike.
Michigan Stellantis supplier locations now on strike:
Centerline Packaging, Center Line
Centerline Warehouse, Center Line
Warren Parts, Warren
QEC, Auburn Hills
Stellantis issued a statement Friday questioning if the UAW is even operating in good faith for its members as they don’t seem interested in negotiating with any sense of urgency.
“The fact is, we made a very competitive offer yesterday that includes all our current full-time hourly employees earning between $80,000 and $96,000 a year by the end of the contract (a 21.4% compounded increase),” the statement said. “And yet, we still have not received a response to that offer. We look forward to the UAW leadership’s productive engagement so that we can bargain in good faith to reach an agreement that will protect the competitiveness of our Company and our ability to continue providing good jobs.”
Michigan GM supplier locations now on strike:
Pontiac Redistribution, Pontiac
Willow Run redistribution, Belleville
Ypsilanti Processing Center, Ypsilanti
Davidson Road Processing Center, Burton
Flint Processing Center, Swartz Creek
Lansing Redistribution, Lansing
GM issued a statement Friday calling the escalation of the strike unnecessary.
“We have contingency plans for various scenarios and are prepared to do what is best for our business, our customers, and our dealers,” the statement said. “We have now presented five separate economic proposals that are historic, addressing areas that our team members have said matters most: wage increases and job security while allowing GM to succeed and thrive into the future. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”
About 20 employees lined up in front of GM’s Lansing Redistribution Center at noon, their voices drowned out by trains frequently passing along the tracks beside them.
With infrequent cars passing by, the display lacked an audience, but still the crowd stood.
Now it’s time for the little guys, executive board member for GM employees at the UAW in Lansing Jean Duchemin said while joining the picket line Friday.
“We desperately need this attention because we need the voters of this contract to understand we are not trying to get into the contract. We are in the contract. We’ve been in the contract,” Duchemin said. “The only differences are our wages and that’s kept us divided because they believe with lower wages, it’s an easier job.”
Duchemin, whose worked at the Lansing plant for six years, was talking about the tier wage system, a major point of contention between the UAW and the Big Three in contract negotiations.
The system has two tiers: The first tier contains workers hired before 2007 agreements and they make about $33 an hour and are eligible for pension, whereas tier two workers make less and have inferior benefits.
“This is a tier two plant, we get paid less than the majority of General Motors,” Duchemin said, “So we’re asking for equality for us as a civil right.”
Everyone at the plant is excited to strike, Alexia Wright, a mother of two who has worked at the Lansing location for over eight years said. She’s run out of vacation days for the year and said she’d like to be able to spend more time with her family.
UAW’s demands not only include abolishing the tiered wage system, but also, 32 hour work weeks, pay increases and improvements to benefits including more paid time off.
Workers are not asking for anything that has not already been earned over the last couple years as more has been demanded, but nothing has been given by management, Dwight Jackson said. He’s been working at the Lansing location for nine years and said this strike is highly desired by his coworkers and they will not be backing down.
“I don’t want nobody to have to struggle,” Jackson said. “This is a fight for the middle class.”
As early evening descended on metro Detroit Friday, UAW striking workers were spirited at Stellantis auto supplier sites in Warren and Center Line, as motorists honked their horns in support.
About a half mile away from strikers, Stanford Martin, a Stellantis Warren Truck Assembly Plant worker, sided with his fellow union colleagues. As his shift ended and he walked from the plant to his vehicle he was resolute.
“We are on strike until they [Detroit Three] get it together and work out a good contract for us,” Martin told the Advance.
Advance reporter Ken Coleman contributed to this story.