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Breaking with the long-standing tradition of a “handshake ceremony” for contract talks with auto executives from the Big Three automakers, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fine instead held a “members’ handshake” with Stellandis workers at Stellandis. Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 12, 2023. The UAW begins auto contract negotiations with Stellar today, Ford on July 14 and General Motors on July 18.
Ahead of the start of contract negotiations on Thursday, The head of the United Auto Workers union has announced plans to strike against the big three U.S. automakers.
In a Facebook message to UAW members on Tuesday, UAW President Shawn Fine said nearly 150,000 members would strike unless Ford, Stellantis and General Motors met their demands.
“The big three are our strike target. Whether there is a strike or not – it depends on Ford, General Motors and Stellandis, because they know what our priorities are. We have been clear,” Fine said.
The contracts between the UAW and the Big Three expire on September 14. Negotiations with Stellantis will begin on Thursday, Ford on Friday and General Motors on Tuesday.
“If the big three don’t give us our fair share, they choose to attack themselves and we won’t be afraid to take action,” Fine warned.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Stellandis workers attend a “Members’ Handshake” event with United Auto Workers President Shawn Fine to mark the start of UAW contract negotiations with Stellandis on July 12, 2023 at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The members’ handshake broke with a long-standing tradition of opening negotiations with a formal handshake between UAW leadership and auto company executives. The UAW begins auto contract negotiations with Stellar today, Ford on July 14 and General Motors on July 18.
Ford CEO Jim Farley said last month that success will require adaptation, including job losses and job gains. The upcoming negotiations “should be about cooperation, not concessions — constructive ideas, not confrontation. We have important work to do with the UAW,” he said.
Stellandis said he plans to secure good wages and benefits for workers while remaining competitive in the global market.
“Together, we must approach these negotiations with an open mind, be prepared to roll up our sleeves to find solutions that create a contract that is competitive in the marketplace, provides our employees with a path to the middle class and meets the needs of our customers,” the company said in a statement.
“We want to reach an agreement that positions the GM team, facilities and our business for success today and tomorrow,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s vice president of global manufacturing, labor relations and sustainability, said in a video message to employees.
In a break from tradition, Fine said he and the rest of the union leadership would not have a public handshake ceremony with the Big Three ahead of the talks. Instead, today he will publicly shake hands Only with union Members.
“I will not shake hands with any CEO until we do right by our members and fix the brokenness of the Big Three,” Fine said.
He added, “We’re taking a different approach every step of the way,” noting that there will be regular updates on negotiations for members.
All the top three automakers posted profits in the first quarter of this year.
“They’ve made a quarter of a trillion dollars in North American profits over the last 10 years, and they can make things right for our members,” Fine says.
The last Garth strike in 2019 was when 48,000 UAW members walked off the job at General Motors for six weeks.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm defended President Joe Biden amid a surprising amount of anger at the White House from Detroit’s auto union leaders amid a push for electric vehicles.
Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, described Biden as “the most pro-labor president in American history” and a “friend” and “friend” to auto union workers.
Although Biden has been endorsed for re-election by the nation’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers has so far held back on endorsing the president.
Asked if the UAW would eventually back Biden, Granholm said: “I sure hope so.”
“We’re very encouraged and hopeful that all unions will see the benefits of this presidency,” Granholm told CNN.
The Tension between Biden And the auto union is focused on the transition to electric vehicles.
The UAW has slammed Biden for using taxpayer money to subsidize EV battery factories without requiring strong wages for workers.
“Why is Joe Biden’s administration facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money?” said Shawn Fine, newly elected president of the UAW Last month After the US authorities made an award $9.2 billion in debt to Ford and South Korean battery maker SK to build three EV battery plants in the US.
Cranholm emphasized that Biden wants these battery plants to be unionized or at least pay prevailing wages and allow workers to bargain collectively.
“He really wants to see that. He’s a partner in that drive,” Granholm said.
The energy secretary argued that the EV investment boom led by Biden has the potential to create significantly more union jobs.
“The amount of jobs across the electric vehicle supply chain that are ripe for unionization is enormous,” Granholm said.
About 300 electric vehicle, car companies or battery suppliers have announced plans to come to the U.S. or expand, an investment worth $140 billion, Granholm said.
“Those are jobs all over the country, including Michigan. We want them to be jobs that are friendly to organized labor. But those are jobs, and they’re going to pay good wages,” Granholm said.
Last week, the White House Gene tapped Sperling To serve as management’s point person in upcoming labor negotiations between the UAW and the nation’s Big Three union lawmakers.