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"We expect to see progress every day": UAW President Shawn Fain explains shift in strike strategy

UAW President Shawn Fain explains shift in strike strategy with CBS News Detroit
UAW President Shawn Fain explains shift in strike strategy with CBS News Detroit 02:50
Tim Brown/CBS Detroit

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – The United Auto Workers has decided not to expand its strike against Detroit's Big Three auto manufacturers for the second Friday in a row.

In a sitdown interview, UAW President Shawn Fain told CBS News Detroit they're pushing hard to get a tentative agreement done; however, each company has its unique approach to negotiations, making progress uneven.

Now, the union is changing its strategy.

"They thought they figured out the so-called rules of the game. So we changed the rules. And now there's only one rule: Pony up," Fain said in a Facebook Live on Friday.

In order to apply continuous pressure on Ford, GM, and Stellantis, UAW leadership says strike expansions could now happen at any time with little notice.

"I think the companies have basically kind of expected it now. It seems that, you know, we're waiting till the last minute on Thursday or Friday for someone to call and say, 'Okay, wait a minute, here's what we have now,' and that's no way to bargain, we expect to bargain every day, we expect to see progress every day," Fain said. 

Experts speak on UAW strike after no new expansions announced 06:52

Fain told CBS News Detroit they're still waiting on Ford to present a new offer, and nothing has changed since he called on 8,700 workers to walk out Wednesday at one of the automaker's most profitable plants–the Kentucky truck plant. 

"We don't do things on a whim. Trust me, if I just had my way, it'd be easy just to say, at the beginning of this, 'Everybody go out, and let's just hit them,' but there's a lot of factors we take into consideration into the decisions we're making," Fain said.

He adds that Stellantis presented a new counteroffer Thursday, and bargaining teams spent Friday going back and forth over the details.

He didn't elaborate on those details, neither did Stellantis, who provided this statement: 

"The discussions between Stellantis and the UAW are focused on narrowing the gaps on issues that will bring immediate financial gains and job security for our employees while providing a bridge for the sustainability of the Company. We have made progress this week and look for collaboration from the UAW to reach an agreement as soon as possible to get everyone back to work."

"As a consequence of the strike action at the Toledo Assembly Complex (TAC), Stellantis has announced temporary layoffs for an additional 700 employees from the Kokomo (Indiana) Transmission and Kokomo (Indiana) Casting Plants, effective Oct. 13. In total, the Company now has 1,340 employees on temporary layoff across three states.  

These plants have reached maximum inventory levels of the parts or components they supply for the Jeep® Wrangler or Jeep Gladiator.  Stellantis continues to closely monitor the impact of the UAW strike action on our manufacturing operations."

"It's tough out there. It's a lot of sacrifice on their [workers] part. And I've been there, but I think the resolve is there. And I think we all understand the battle that's in front of us," Fain said. "We're at a great inflection point, not just in this union, but in this country, you know, we have to ask ourselves, 'what kind of future do we want for America? And not just America, but for the world? And is it going to be runaway profits for a handful of people, and they keep it all? Or is it going to be getting working-class people back to where they make living wages, and they don't have to scrape to get by paycheck-to-paycheck? That's really what this fight is all about."

Fain calls union members to join picket lines this weekend and support striking workers. 

He's heading to Pennslyvania to join Mack Truck workers who went on strike on Monday after rejecting a tentative agreement.

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