UAW strike decision day comes as bargaining heats up

By Joseph White

October 6, 2023 – 6:27 AM PDT

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DETROIT, Oct 6 (Reuters) – United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain is scheduled to say later on Friday whether recent intensified bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers has produced enough progress to forestall more walkouts.

Striking United Auto Workers members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket on a street corner in Delta Township, Michigan U.S. September 29, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
Striking United Auto Workers members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket on a street corner in Delta Township, Michigan U.S. September 29, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

A video address by Fain is scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) and will cover substantive bargaining updates, people familiar with the UAW’s plans said. That timing is a departure from the previous two Fridays in which Fain addressed union members at about 10 a.m. Detroit time (1400 GMT), and ordered walkouts at additional Detroit Three factories to start at noon.

Fain kept automakers guessing with a social media post on Thursday afternoon that showed an image of three men in suits, their faces obscured by the logos of the Detroit automakers, standing in front of a table with roses on it. “Tune into @UAW’s Facebook page at 2pm on Friday, October 6th to see who gets the rose!” Fain tweeted, a reference to the television reality show “The Bachelorette,” in which the week’s winners get a rose.

In the UAW version, the winner offers richer contract terms, and gets a week without a new strike.

People familiar with the bargaining among the UAW and Detroit automakers General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor (F.N) and Chrysler parent Stellantis (STLAM.MI) said talks have heated up this week after days of little movement.

Ford, GM and Stellantis have made new proposals in an effort to end the escalating cycle of walkouts that threaten to undercut profits and cripple smaller suppliers already strained from months of production cuts forced by semiconductor shortages.

The pressure is rising on the three automakers as EV market leader Tesla (TSLA.O) cut U.S. prices of its Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV, ratcheting up its price war and further pressuring profits on all EV models that are forced to match CEO Elon Musk’s aggressiveness.

Deutsche Bank estimated in a research note on Friday that the hit to operating earnings at GM, Ford and Stellantis from lost production has been $408 million, $250 million and $230 million, respectively.

Ford said its latest wage offer would provide raises in excess of 20% over the life of a contract. Combined with proposed cost-of-living-adjustments, workers could see close to 30% increases in pay, people familiar with the proposal said.

Fain’s Friday video addresses have become must-see events since he launched coordinated strikes at GM, Ford and Stellantis plants shortly after midnight on Sept. 15.

Each Friday since, Fain has kept the automakers in suspense as to whether he would order additional plants shut down, or give an automaker a pass because they had offered new concessions. So far, the union has ordered walkouts at five assembly plants and 38 parts depots operated by GM and Stellantis.

Fain passed over Ford on the Friday that he called for strikes against parts depots.

Last Friday, Fain called off a strike planned at one of Stellantis’ assembly plants after the automaker delivered new proposals minutes before the scheduled start of his talk.

Reporting by Joe White in Detroit Editing by Matthew Lewis and Nick Zieminski

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