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UAW President Shawn Fain vows to expand autoworker strike with "little notice"

UAW President Shawn Fain: No new strike expansions as strike enters fifth week
UAW President Shawn Fain: No new strike expansions as strike enters fifth week 18:49

The United Auto Workers is no longer notifying the Big Three automakers before calling additional walkouts amid the labor group's ongoing strike, union President Shawn Fain said on Friday. 

"We are prepared at any time to call on more locals to stand up and walk out," Fain said said in a webcast on the UAW's month-long strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. "Going forward, we will be calling out plants when we need to, with little notice." 

The union is ditching its habit of announcing new targets on Fridays, as the automakers had taken to waiting to make any substantial offers until the end of the work week, he said.

The new approach was on display earlier in the week as the UAW ramped up its walkout on Wednesday by shutting down Ford's largest factory in Louisville, Kentucky, where 8,700 members left their jobs, bringing to roughly 34,000 the numbers of workers on strike against the three car makers. 

"For two weeks, Ford has been tell us there is more money to be had," only to deliver the same economic offer to UAW negotiators on Wednesday, prompting the decision to strike the Kentucky plant that day. "We didn't wait until Friday and we didn't wait a minute," said Fain.

Auto analyst speaks on recent expansion of UAW strike 05:19

The strike at the truck plant that builds the Super Duty pickup, Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition large SUVs took the automaker by surprise, a particular blow as the lineup represents the company's most lucrative products, generating $25 billion a year in revenue.

Ford said the company is unable to improve on its offer of a 23% pay increase without hurting its ability to invest in its business. The Ford plant in Kentucky generates $48,000 in revenue every 60 seconds, or "vastly more than the lowest paid Ford workers make in a year," said Fain.

Fain last week disclosed that Ford's proposal included the 23% hike, which is higher than the 20% offers from General Motors and Stellantis, Chrysler's parent.

The union is actively negotiating with GM and Stellantis, according to the union leader, who lashed out at Ford for its contention on Thursday that it had hit its ceiling on its offer. "I found a pathetic irony in that statement," Fain said, adding that it is workers who are fed up by not getting raises for a decade and relinquishing what he called retirement security. 

The UAW began its strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis on September 15, with workers walking off the job at one assembly plant from each automaker. Roughly 34,000 workers are now striking six assembly plants and 38 parts-distribution centers. The walkout is the first in the UAW's nearly nine decades of existence that targets all three carmakers at once.

GM agrees to place EV battery plants under UAW contract 02:39

"The longer our strike goes on, the more the public turns against corporate greed at the Big Three," said Fain, who cited a recent poll from the Associated Press showing that only 9% of Americans support the automakers.

The UAW last week reported progress in the bargaining and opted against expanding the strike additional plants. That came after GM agreed to bring joint-venture electric vehicle battery factories into the national master contract, virtually ensuring that the plants would be unionized. The issue is key to the union as it looks to protect workers displaced as the industry transitions to electric vehicles. 

—The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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