Employees join the picket line at General Motor’s Lansing Redistribution Center as the location was called to strike on September 22, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)
Two more plants, employing 7,000 workers, are joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike at noon Friday, UAW President Shawn Fain announced Friday morning on Facebook Live. This brings the total number of workers who will have walked off the job to 25,000.
The strike against Detroit Three auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis started two weeks ago after contract negotiations failed.
Fain said as he was gearing up for the planned livestream, Stellantis showed progress in negotiating with the union for a better contract, so the union did not target additional plants at the company.
Fain did call on Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as GM’s Lansing Delta Township facility to stand up and go out on strike at noon Friday. Fain offered those who have already been called to strike a message of encouragement.
“Keep showing the company’s that you’re ready to stand up when you’re called. When we win this fight, when we right the wrongs of the past 15 years and longer. And when we set a new course for future generations, it won’t be because of any president, not the UAW president, not the president of the United States. It will be because ordinary people did extraordinary things,” Fain said.
At Fain’s invitation, President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited a UAW picket line in Belleville, Michigan, telling workers, “Wall Street didn’t build the country; the middle class built the country. … And unions built the middle class.”
Although Biden said he marched in UAW picket lines when he was a U.S. senator, he’s noted taking pride in doing it as president. It is believed that this is the first time in modern history that a sitting president has visited an active strike site.
Fain did not note former President Donald Trump’s Wednesday speech at a non-union Macomb County plant. The union president declined to meet with Trump, saying he was part of the problem of the “billionaire class.”
“They [the UAW] have to endorse Trump [in 2024], because if they don’t, all they’re doing is committing suicide,” Trump said at the event at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township.
The UAW has not endorsed in the 2024 election. Michigan is again considered a pivotal swing state.
Even with Biden’s support for the striking workers, Fain noted UAW members are still facing obstacles, noting a hit-and-run incident Tuesday afternoon on the picket line at General Motors’ Flint Processing Center. The incident, where it’s reported a driver leaving the facility hit five members of the picket line, wasn’t the only violence Fain said has occurred.
“We’ve had guns pulled on us. Trucks and cars ran through us and violent threats hurled at us. And I want to be absolutely clear. We will not be intimidated into backing down by the companies or their scabs,” Fain said. “Our solidarity is our strength and right now, our strength is the hope of working class people everywhere. Let’s stand up and win this thing for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, for our country, and for our future.”
The UAW is using a staggered approach to its strike, called a “Stand Up Strike” plan, where instead of all the plants striking together, select plants are periodically informed to “stand up and walk out.”
Prior to Friday, a total of 41 locations were called to strike across 21 states, with 14 of the locations being in Michigan.
This is bigger than even the Detroit Three, Fain said, noting several other labor actions that have occurred since the UAW went on strike against the automakers. Notably, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) UNITE HERE workers at Detroit’s three casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City Casino and Hollywood at Greektown — will vote Friday on whether to authorize their own strike.
This story is republished from Michigan Advance, a sister publication of Kentucky Lantern and part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.
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