After the deadline to reach a new deal passed last week, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union began a targeted strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, which currently impacts only the Michigan Assembly plant for The Blue Oval, which builds the Ford Bronco and Ford Ranger and employs around 3,300 people – though the automaker just laid off 600 workers there as a direct result of this strike. Though talks between Ford and the UAW continue, both sides are seemingly far apart on at least one hot button issue – pay increases – and the union has threatened to take addition action if it doesn’t make tangible progress by Friday. In the meantime, the White House is sending two of its own to Detroit to help move these talks along, but it doesn’t seem as if UAW President Shawn Fain is interested in that assistance, according to CNBC.
When asked if the Biden Administration could play a role in helping the two sides come to an agreement, Fain replied “not at all.” “This battle is not about the president,” he said. “It’s not about the former president or any other person prior to that. This battle is about the workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share because they’re fed up with going backwards.”
The Biden Administration sent acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior advisor Gene Sperling to Detroit this week to assist in any way possible, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen adding that the administration wants a “win-win” deal. “The two sides need to narrow their disagreements and to work for a contract that’s good for the workers and for the industry as well,” she said. Regardless, the UAW and all three Detroit automakers remain “far apart” in negotiations, according to Fain.
While all three automakers are now offering the UAW a 20 percent pay increase, the union is reportedly seeking a recently-lowered ask of around 36 percent. Otherwise, the union is asking for the return of cost of living increases, the end of tiered pay systems, pensions for new hires, increased pensions for retirees, and a four-day, 32-hour full time work week.