Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

UAW strike 2023 update: GM President Mark Reuss blames UAW for 'misinformation'

Some 3,000 United Auto Workers members and their supporters rallied on. Friday outside UAW-Ford National Programs Center in Detroit. (BridgeDetroit photo by Quinn Banks)

Last updated:Thursday, Sept. 21, at 10:10 a.m. This post will be continuously updated with updates about the United Auto Workers' strike against Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis.

General Motors President Mark Reuss blamed the United Auto Workers for a “flow of misinformation” about the automaker’s contract offers.

“Often in these situations, the clouds of rhetoric can obscure reality,” he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Detroit Free Press. 

GM followed that later Wednesday by publishing its take on what it's offered— like a 20-percent wage increase — and the UAW response. GM called the information “setting the record straight.”

In it, the Detroit-based automaker pushed back on UAW statements that it doesn’t pay a decent wage and that its record profits can fund the union’s requests. 

The UAW demands include:

  • 40 percent wage increase of the next four years, 46 percent when compounded 
  • Cost-of-living increases
  • 32-hour work week with 40-hour pay 

  • A cap on the number of temporary workers, and convert them to full-time seniority employment after 90 days

  • More paid time off and additional holidays

  • Job security through what is called the Working Family Protection Program, which includes the right to strike over plant closures 

“As the past has clearly shown, nobody wins in a strike,” Reuss said in his opinion piece. “We have delivered a record offer. That is a fact. It rightly rewards our team members, while positioning the company for success in the future.” — Paula Gardner

Wed. Sept. 20

Michigan businesses brace for longer-term strike

Economic fallout from the UAW strike is pressuring the state’s business leaders, who are increasingly concerned about a long-term walkout.

A 10-day strike could cost the U.S. over $5 billion, according to a widely circulated report from Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing. The strike reached the halfway point of that forecast early Wednesday, raising questions about how costs could grow beyond that, and who would be harmed.

“Michigan’s economic vitality is tied into the auto industry,” said Jim Holcomb, Michigan Chamber president and CEO. 

The longer the strike continues, the greater likelihood of impact beyond the factories and striking workers, Holcomb told Bridge.

Chamber members such as auto suppliers and auto dealers are telling Holcomb that they are preparing for strike-related layoffs. And small businesses and restaurants in auto-centric areas of the state are bracing for sales drops.

“I have business owners calling me really worried, asking me, ‘Have you heard anything?  What do you know? We're really concerned.’”

Lack of word from automakers and the union over recent days leaves the state guessing, he added. 

“Is it good because it means they're really negotiating hard and they're at the table? Or is it bad because nothing's going on?”

Michigan needs to fight for all auto-related jobs, including manufacturing, Holcomb said, since the state has long led the nation in automotive employment. 

Yet he’s struggling with the union demands, as presented publicly, at a time when global competition and corresponding EV conversion pressures the Big Three legacy automakers to maintain their market share, which is now about 40 percent.

A 40 percent pay increase or return to pensions is not something that any chamber member is considering, Holcomb said. From a business perspective, he said, the UAW requests are “just not realistic.” — Paula Gardner

Wed. Sept. 20

More strike-related layoffs

Layoffs related to the UAW strike affecting three U.S. factories are starting to accumulate, as Stellantis announced on Wednesday that 368 workers at two non-Michigan plants will be idled.

This group joins 600 non-striking workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. They were laid off last week, shortly after the strike began in a portion of the factory that makes the popular Broncos and Ranger pickups.

About 2,000 workers in Fairfax, Kansas, learned Wednesday that they are being laid off.  GM had said the assembly factory could run out of parts this week, confirming to WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Wednesday that the UAW walkout at the Wentzville stamping plant near St. Louis created  a “negative ripple effect."

The Stellantis layoffs are at the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, near the Jeep complex that is the third national strike target. Additional layoffs are coming to the Kokomo, Indiana, transmission and casting plants. 

Auto suppliers also are closely watching production changes due to the strike. CIE Newcor, a prototype maker that operates four sites in Michigan — Corunna, Clifford, and two in Owosso — filed a notice with the state last week that it could lay off 293 workers for one month by early October.

UAW President Shawn Fain will address members through a Facebook live video at 10 a.m. Friday, September 22, two hours before he has said more walkouts could be called.

Paula Gardner

Wed., Sept. 20

Strike enters 6th day; more walkouts possible Friday

Wednesday is the sixth day of the United Auto Workers strike against all of the Big Three legacy automakers, with Friday looming as the day that more factories could be added to the list of targeted walkouts. 

UAW President Shawn Fain will address members through a Facebook live video at 10 a.m. Friday, two hours before more walkouts could be called.

The initial strike is historic, as it's the first to affect all three automakers: Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis, the owner of the former Fiat-Chrysler. 

It’s also unique in its “Stand Up” format, with walkouts determined with precision to hit specific targets. The first were Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Stellantis’ Jeep complex in Toledo and GM’s commercial truck plant in Wentzville, Missouri, near St. Louis. 

The automakers are not releasing details of the negotiations since Stellantis said on Monday that talks were “constructive and focused on where we can find common ground.”

Meanwhile, federal officials who President Joe Biden said would travel to Detroit as negotiations continued no longer plan to make the trip, CNN reported. 

And details are still to come from former President Donald Trump’s expected campaign trip to the Detroit area next Wednesday, as he courts union voters and criticizes UAW leadership and Biden. 

Criticism in turn was leveled at Trump by Fain and two Democratic Michigan Congress members, saying he wasn’t a pro-union president and that the negotiations are too sensitive for the U.S. economy for presidential campaigning.  – Paula Gardner

Monday, Sept. 18

Fain: UAW strike could expand Friday to more factories

The United Auto Workers' strike against Big Three legacy automakers will expand on Friday from three walkouts to more if negotiations don’t yield progress.

UAW President Shawn Fain released a five-minute video on Facebook late Monday, announcing that more locals could be called upon to join the strike at noon Friday. He did not specify which factories could be affected.

“We’re going to keep hitting the company where we need to, when we need to,” Fain said. “And we’re not going to keep waiting around forever while they drag this out.”

In the video, Fain praised UAW members for their support of the walkouts at three factories: Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne; the Toledo Jeep complex in Ohio; and General Motors’ Wentzville Assembly near St. Louis, Missouri.

He then turned to the union demands, saying it’s time for automakers to reward their hourly workers during a time when profits are record-setting and CEO wages are increasing.

Fain said striking workers will remain out until Friday, and he asked workers still reporting to their jobs to continue to show their support for the strike. 

Only Stellantis released a statement about resuming negotiations on Monday, and in it the Dutch company that owns the former Fiat-Chrysler said it looked forward to resuming plant operations as soon as possible.

“The discussion was constructive and focused on where we can find common ground to reach an agreement that provides a bridge to the future by enabling the company to meet the challenges of electrification,” it said.

“We continue to listen to the UAW to identify where we can work together.” — Paula Gardner

Monday, Sept. 18

Trump returns to Michigan to court striking workers

Former President Donald Trump will return to Michigan next week to court striking union workers, according to a new report by The New York Times.

Trump is expected to skip the second Republican presidential debate on Sept. 27 and instead travel to Detroit, according to the newspaper. There he "intends to speak to over 500 workers, with his campaign planning to fill the room with plumbers, pipe-fitters, electricians, as well as autoworkers, according to one of the Trump advisers familiar with the planning," the Times reported.

Related: Fain pushes back as Trump plans Michigan trip to court UAW

Trump appealed to blue collar workers in his winning 2016 campaign and is working to do the same in 2024 as he seeks a return to the White House. During a June speech in Oakland County, Trump claimed Biden's push for electric vehicles will "decimate" Michigan.

While some auto sector jobs will change or disappear, many of Trump’s claims were inflated or not supported by the available evidence, according to a Bridge Michigan analysis. — Jonathan Oosting 

Monday, Sept. 18

Stellantis seeks plant closures

Stellantis seeks to establish a new parts distribution network in the U.S. and will continue to invest in auto factories, but also has a plan to sell or close up to 18 facilities, according to a report from CNBC auto writer Michael Wayland.

Among the sites affected could be several in Michigan, according to the report. 

On the list is the company's North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, which reportedly would remain the headquarters as well as a technical center. However, many of the company’s workers still work from home, raising options for how the company's excess space on the former Chrysler campus can be used. 

Full closures could come for:

  • The remaining portion of the Trenton engine plant, which has 760 employees and is already partially decommissioned.
  • Mount Elliott Tool and Die in Detroit, where six union workers remain on-site, according to Stellantis corporate information
  • And Detroit-based warehouse and office space.

And the company’s idled Belvidere, Illinois factory could be repurposed from factory to hub of a new parts distribution plan that could resemble Amazon’s model, Wayland reported. 

The future of the Belvidere plant, which employed about 1,200 when idled early this year, was an early source of conflict between the United Auto Workers and Stellantis. UAW President Shawn Fain disclosed that the automaker sought changes for 18 of its sites just before calling a strike early Friday morning. Job protection has been a goal of the UAW in the contract talks, as automakers turn to electrification. 

Stellantis said in a statement Friday that Fain’s comments came without context: “The vast majority of this proposal is to modernize our operations and enable us to run our parts distribution centers more efficiently, while preserving those jobs. In addition, it would protect our rights to consolidate or sell other underused real estate and facilities.  — Paula Gardner

Sept. 18

Unifor eyes Ford strike in Canada; UAW to amp up?

The United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three legacy U.S. automakers continues Monday with an international twist: Ford Motor Co. could face a strike tonight by Unifor, which represents Canadian autoworkers.

The situation is approaching the worst-case scenario offered by industry experts over the course of this year, as many warned that UAW talks would coincide with Canadian talks.

Unifor, which represents 330,000 workers in Canada, issued a letter on Friday as a show of support for the UAW.

“Our unions have a long and historic relationship as the two largest unions representing autoworkers in North America,” it said. “Just like you, we know what it means to have some of the world’s most powerful corporations as our employer.”

Now Unifor also is warning that it could strike three Canadian Ford plants as early as Monday night,  according to a report from CNN. The Dearborn-based automaker operates two engine factories in Windsor, across the Detroit River from Detroit, with a combined 1,700 workers. 

The other Canadian Ford factory is an assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, where 3,400 hourly workers produce the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus. Production is shifting to EVs and EV batteries in 2024, and Ford recently made a $1.8 billion (Canadian) investment to retool. 

A 30-day strike affecting both the UAW and Unifor could trim North American production about 500,000 vehicles from their projected sales in 2023, a number that could climb to 1.8 million if a strike stretches to 100 days, according to projections from GlobalData. — Paula Gardner

Sept. 17

Fain warns strike could widen

Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, said Sunday morning that the union may increase its number of strike targets.

“If we don’t get better offers … we’re going to amp this thing up even more,” Fain said during an interview with CBS News on “Face the Nation.”

The UAW launched what it calls a stand-up strike early Friday morning, targeting three factories, including Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, where the popular Ranger trucks and Bronco SUVs are made. Other factories affected are the Stellantis Jeep complex in Toledo, and a General Motors commercial truck facility in Wentzville, Missouri,  near St. Louis.

About 8 percent of the UAW’s 150,000 members are affected by the strike, which was designed to affect all of the Big Three legacy automakers. 

“We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do,” Fain said.

Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump also have weighed in on the strike in recent days, Biden supporting the union and Trump criticizing it. The situation prompted a question to Fain about the UAW’s 2024 endorsement. Biden says he a pro-union president, but the UAW hasn’t officially backed him in the next election.

“Our endorsements are going to be earned,” Fain said. “Who the president is now, who the former president was … isn’t going to win this fight. 

“This fight is all about one thing. It's about workers winning their fair share of economic justice.” — Paula Gardner

Sept. 16

Stellantis reveals UAW contract offer

Stellantis released details of its proposal to the UAW on Saturday, saying the union has misrepresented what the Dutch automaker is offering.

“We believe it is imperative to set the record straight and provide the facts of Stellantis’ highly competitive offer, presented on September 14,” the company said in a statement

Stellantis — owner of the former Fiat-Chrysler and whose North American headquarters is in Auburn Hills, Michigan — is among the Big Three legacy automakers affected by the UAW strike by about 150,000 workers. Its Toledo Jeep complex was one of the first three factories targeted by the walkout that started Friday.

The statement came as the UAW and automakers were expected to resume bargaining on Saturday.

“Stellantis and the UAW have entered a critical phase of negotiations,” according to the statement. “Decisions made during this process will either enable our workers and our Company to thrive or will take us backward and endanger the long-term competitiveness of our company, negatively impacting our workers and our communities.”

Included in the offer:

  • 21 percent wage Increase, including an immediate 10 percent. Additionally, we proposed increasing wages for all our Supplemental Employees with a new starting wage rate of $20 per hour – a $4.22 per hour, or 26.7%, increase. 
  • Four year progression to the top of the wage tier, down from eight.
  • Inflation protection and retirement improvements, though the company did not offer details.          

  — Paula Gardner

U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders speaks at Detroit UAW rally

Sept. 16

Sanders decries 'corporate greed' at UAW rally

A red sea surged through downtown Detroit on Friday as hundreds of scarlet-clad autoworkers capped the first day of striking with a lively rally featuring Michigan leaders and labor champion U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Union members from across the country gathered outside the UAW-Ford Joint Trusts Center on Jefferson Avenue, just a few steps from the Detroit North American International Auto Show. UAW President Shawn Fain, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and others called for workers to be treated with respect and dignity, while Sanders forcefully denounced “corporate greed.” Fain said the UAW expects to go back to the bargaining table this weekend. 

“Over the last 50 years, there’s been a massive redistribution of wealth, except it’s gone in the wrong direction - instead of going from the top to the bottom, it’s gone from the bottom up to the top,” Sanders said. “We’re going to reverse that trend. If the ruling class of this country wants a redistribution of wealth, we’re going to give it to them.”

Read more from BridgeDetroit

— Malachi Barrett

Sept. 15

UAW's Fain: 'We await their response'

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Friday afternoon that the Big Three squandered six weeks of bargaining time before the union called its historic strike hours earlier.

However, Fain disagrees with President Joe Biden’s statement that negotiations have broken down. 

“Our national elected negotiators and UAW leadership are hard at work at the bargaining table,” he said.

The UAW will rally in Detroit on Friday with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent. The event will be at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center at 151 W. Jefferson, with admittance at 4 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, “we expect to be at the bargaining table,” Fain said. “All three companies have received a comprehensive counteroffer from our union, and we await their response.” — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Autoworkers ‘walking on eggshells’

Rodney Phillips, 35, is a Roseville resident who’s worked at the Sterling Heights Assembly as a production operator since 2018. He’s one of thousands of workers who are clocking in without a contract.

“That’s the scary part, we’ve never been in this situation so we don’t know how bad it can get as far as working without a contract,” Phillips said. “We just know we have to go do the job to perfection. It is kind of scary.”

You can read more about Phillips’ story here.

Related: Autoworkers ‘walking on eggshells’ as they await UAW strike outcome

- Malachi Barrett

Sept. 15

GM's Barra: UAW strike 'can get resolved very quickly

General Motors CEO Mary Barra says she is “extremely frustrated and disappointed” by the UAW strike called against the Big Three legacy automakers early Friday morning.

Barra told CNBC on Friday that her negotiating team has been working on a deal since July 18, fielding more than 1,000 union requests.

“I think the strike can get resolved very quickly,” Barra told CNBC.

“We don’t need to be on strike right now,” she added, detailing GM’s latest offer, which she described as historic. “I think we have a very generous offer on the table right now.”

The UAW launched what it calls a stand-up strike as the contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, starting with a strike at one facility of each of the Big Three. GM’s Wentzville Assembly factory, near St. Louis, is a target.

Barra said she hopes for a quick resolution to the strike. The last UAW strike against the Big Three came in 2019, when GM’s 48,000 union members walked out. That strike cost GM $3 billion.

“We need to get there fast,” Barra said of a settlement and the strike’s financial implications beyond the automaker. She noted that auto manufacturing jobs support an additional six jobs in the U.S. economy

She continued: “We have to get back to work so we don’t lose ground.” — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Biden says UAW workers deserve record contracts

Democratic President Joe Biden addressed the UAW strike against the Big Three legacy automakers shortly after noon Friday by making a series of pro-union statements.

The automakers are posting record profits, Biden said, which should mean record contracts for the UAW. 

“I understand workers' frustration,” he said. “Over generations, auto workers sacrificed so much to keep the industry alive and strong, especially the economic crisis and the pandemic. Workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they helped create.”

Union gains, Biden said, expand the overall economy by raising wages, income, home ownership and retirement savings, “all of which strengthen our economy for all workers.”

U.S. Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su will travel to Detroit as negotiations continue, along with White House adviser Gene Sperling, who has been involved in the talks. Both will support both sides in the talks, Biden said. 

Biden, who took no questions from assembled White House media,  said an eventual contract also should allow the Big Three companies to continue to lead the economy and in automotive innovation. 

But he returned to the nearly 150,000 workers of Ford, GM and Stellantis who are now either working without a contract, or in the case of three factories in the U.S., on strike. 

“The bottom line is that auto workers helped create America's middle class,” Biden said. “They deserve a contract that sustains them in the middle class.” — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Dems rally around UAW; Biden to address strike

WAYNE — U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats from Michigan, talked to striking Ford workers on Friday morning in front of the main gate of the Michigan Assembly factory.

“We all hoped that they would come together and have an agreement,” Peters said, as he held a “UAW on strike” placard and waved it at passing vehicles. “No one wants to have a strike. But sometimes that's what is necessary.”

The senators’ presence amplified the support coming from many of the state’s Democrats in federal office. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is expected to speak on the issue today. 

Both senators focused on the workers who picketed at all of the gates to the factory along Michigan Avenue.

Sen. Peters with UAW sign
(Bridge photo)

“The important thing is to make sure that there is an agreement that supports the work of the people who get the job done here,” Stabenow said. 

Reaching an agreement also has implications for workers outside of the union, Peters said.

“It's important for folks to realize, too, that it's not just the UAW, … that their fair wages and benefits help all Americans as well as help the American middle class,” he said.

At the state level, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a union supporter who also celebrated auto company expansions in the state, is staying in close contact with both sides of the negotiations, her spokesperson told Bridge late Friday morning.

“The strength and vitality of Michigan’s economy depends in equal parts on our skilled and dedicated labor force, as well as the Big Three Automakers whose industry has long defined our state economy,” Whitmer’s spokesperson Stacey LaRouche said.

 “We’re hopeful all parties can come together during these negotiations to continue building on the momentum Michigan has seen (with over 36,000 auto jobs added in the last four years). 

 — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Workers call tiered pay system ‘unfair’

UAW workers on the picket line
(Bridge photo)

Workers on the picket line outside the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne Friday morning said it was time for the automakers to share their profits.

 We’ve been under long contracts for years now and we deserve more,” said Jeff Wilson, 45, of Livonia, a utility worker at the Michigan Assembly Plant. “We’ve given back concessions and haven’t gotten any back.”

Alexus Hill, 30, of Detroit, who has worked at the Ford plant for six years, said the tier system of pay common at the auto plants is unfair. “Most of the assembly workers do the same type of work as the legacy workers, but sometimes work longer hours, Hill said.  “I feel like we all deserve to have the same amount of pay.

“I know that they’re not going to try to give us what we deserve so we need to get out here and strike and show them that we’re serious.”

Alantra Bronner, 29, Detroit, has been a production worker at the Wayne plant for three years. Before that, she worked at a plant where, because of the pay tier system, her pay would have maxed out at $22.

“A lot of people I know didn’t leave that tier 2 plant,” Bronner said, “so I’m fighting for them because I know how it feels because I was just there.”

-  Janelle D. James

Sept. 15

‘It’s time for them to give back’

 woman holding sign
Angela Alexander holds signs supporting the UAW in front of Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Assembly plant on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Bridge photo Paula Gardner)

WAYNE — Blaring horns from truck after truck drowned out the cheering thanks from dozens of United Auto Workers picketers Friday morning, hours after the union called its first strike in four years against the Big Three legacy auto companies.

The workers waved signs and raised fists in front of Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Assembly plant, a decades-old complex about 12 miles west of Dearborn that got a new life in recent years when the automaker set up popular Bronco and Ranger pickup production. 

The plant is the only one in Michigan among three chosen as the first strike targets by the auto union. It’s also the only one from Ford, as the union set up a historic three-company strike, also affecting a GM factory near St. Louis and the Toledo Jeep complex run by Stellantis. 

Most of the workers in Wayne said they were surprised Thursday night to learn they’d be starting the next day on a picket line. Each said it’s time for Ford to not just raise their pay, but eliminate the two-tier system and recognize their contributions to the company’s profitability.

“When I came in, it was a great job,” said Angela Alexander, 49, of Canton. “It still is a great job. Ford gave me a great life. 

“But it’s time for them to give back what they took years ago when we made concessions to keep everything afloat.”

Many of the workers on the picket line were from the striking plant, with others coming from Woodhaven, UAW offices and other sites to show solidarity. They stood in groups ranging from a handful to a couple dozen at gates along the south side US-12, an eight-lane divided highway, reveling in the support from vehicle after vehicle. 

Across the road, dozens more stood in line outside Local 900 offices, where the doors opened at 9 a.m. for workers to register for picketing shifts and strike pay, learning more about what it means to be on strike. The food bank, some workers said, already was stocked.

Alexander said she’s concerned about the erosion of her wages amid inflation, and she also sees younger coworkers who came in under the two-tier system — and earning under $20 per hour to start — struggling to reach the middle-class life that she was able to attain when she started at Ford.

“As soon as I got up to full pay, I bought a house by myself in my 20s,” she said. “And I was so proud of that. With this pay now, I couldn’t afford a house by myself.” — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Dems lend support as strike begins at 3 factories

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat, says he stands with the striking workers and plans to join them on the picket line on Friday.

“UAW members made huge sacrifices to help save the auto industry in 2008 and now that the Big Three are making historic profits, the workers deserve to get their fair share of the success,” he said. “UAW workers are making the best cars in the world in Michigan and it’s critical they continue to be the future of the industry, especially as we transition to electric vehicles.”

Other Democrats also plan to join the pickets, including U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who represents mid-Michigan and the Lansing area.

“For the last two years, we’ve passed bills to incentivize American manufacturing and bring supply chains home from places like China,” she said. “But the companies that benefit from these policies need to do right by the workers who make their success possible.”

The UAW plans a rally at 4 p.m. Friday at the UAW-Ford Joint Trust Building in Detroit, near the site of the Detroit Auto Show, which opens to the public on Saturday. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, is a headliner along with UAW President Shawn Fain. — Paula Gardner

Sept. 15

Walkouts start in Wayne, Toledo and Wentzville

The United Auto Workers contract negotiations did not yield an agreement by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, sending about 150,000 members into what union leaders are calling a “stand up strike” of rotating targets.

Within moments, the union initiated walkouts at three major U.S. factories.

For the first time, the UAW is striking each of the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis, which now owns the former Fiat-Chrysler.

The three factories — including one in Michigan — were told to be ready to strike two hours earlier when UAW President Shawn Fain said negotiations with the Big Three were still in progress.

“This is our defining moment,” Fain said during a Facebook live event that attracted over 100,000 viewers.

Workers at the three initial strike locations then started to mobilize, wearing red shirts and carrying signs.

Among them were paint and final assembly employees at Ford’s Michigan Assembly factory in Wayne,where 3,300 workers build popular Broncos and Rangers. Video from the scene showed workers gathered near entry gates  just before midnight, waving signs that read “Michigan is a Union Town,”  “United for a Strong Contract” and “End All Tiers.”

The other two initial strike targets are Toledo Assembly, where Stellantis builds Jeeps, and General Motors Wentzville Assembly, a truck factory near St. Louis, Missouri.

Reaction from Stellantis was immediate.

“We are extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership's refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement in the best interest of our employees, their families and our customers,” according to a statement issued at 12:01 a.m. “We immediately put the company in contingency mode and will take all the appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the company.”

Michigan business leaders also weighed in, saying that the strike’s impact goes beyond the automotive industry. 

“It disproportionately impacts Michigan residents, especially those in the middle class,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Every (Big Three)  auto job impacts between seven to 10 other jobs, which are all at risk as the strike shuts down the industry. 

“As Michigan has the highest concentration of auto-related jobs, our state will take the lion’s share of the negative economic impact.” — Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Michigan Ford factory 1 of 3 in U.S. set to strike

Three factories in the U.S. were told to be ready to strike at 11:59 p.m. Thursday as United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said negotiations with the Big Three are coming down to the wire.

“All options remain on the table,” Fain said during a Facebook live event starting shortly after 10 p.m.

The three factories preparing to strike:

Ford's Michigan Assembly in Wayne, about 12 miles west of the automaker’s Dearborn headquarters. It employs about 3,300 and builds the Bronco and Ranger pickup.

General Motors Wentzville Assembly, about 40 miles west of St. Louis, Missouri, which builds Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks and Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. It employs 4,114.

Stellantis Toledo Assembly, a 3.6 million square foot factory that builds Jeeps. It employs 4,174 hourly workers.

All other workers are not on strike until called to do so, Fain said. If the deadline passes without a deal, the workers will be working without a contract and will not be considered at-will employees, he said. Information on how that contractless status works can be found on the UAW website.

Striking workers will be organized into so-called “stand-up strikes,” with walkouts expected to rotate among facilities to keep companies guessing the targets and impact.

“No matter what, all of us need to keep organizing,” Fain told UAW members, about 150,000 of which work in Big Three factories across the country. “We must show companies you are ready to join the stand-up strike at a moment’s notice.”

Fain said that if tonight’s negotiations fail and lead to a strike, he’ll be at Ford’s Michigan Assembly at midnight.

“This is our defining moment,” Fain said. — Paula Gardner


Thursday, Sept. 14

Big Three data on performance, profits

The United Auto Workers and Big Three automakers are heading toward today's contract expiration at 11:59 p.m.

At 10 p.m., UAW President Shawn Fain is expected to release where the union's "stand-up" strike will be launched against Ford, GM and Stellantis, if a strike is the next step. This new strike format would target any and all of the auto factories, but at staggered times to "keep companies guessing."

Here are some key financial and performance data on the Big Three legacy automakers, from a Bridge article earlier this week.

Profitability in the first half of 2023:

Ford: $3.7 billion

Highlights: That gain is up from a loss of $2.4 billion in the first half of 2022, when the automaker recorded a loss on its investment in electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian. Ford revenue reached $86 million, up 16 percent from the first half of 2022.

GM: $4.9 billion

Highlights: Revenue reached $84.7 billion, up 18 percent. 

Stellantis: $12.1 billion 

Highlights: North America is the company’s largest segment, accounting for $8.1 billion of the first half’s net income, an 8 percent increase. Globally, first-half profits were up 37 percent in the first half and set a company record for revenue at $109 billion. Profitability was credited to higher shipments. Global inventory was at 1.37 million vehicles, up from 845,000 a year ago.

Full-year outlook, according to each company’s public filings:

Ford: Full-year adjusted earnings projections were raised in June to $11 billion to $12 billion, up from $9 billion to $11 billion.

GM: Full-year adjusted earnings were raised to $12 billion to $14 billion, up $1 billion from the end of the first quarter.

Stellantis: The company in July forecast a double-digit adjusted operating income along with positive cash flow. 

CEO to worker pay ratio compensation:

Ford: The average employee earned $74,691, while CEO Jim Farley’s compensation was  $20,996,146. The ratio of CEO pay to all employees was 281 to 1.

GM: The average employee earned $80,034, while CEO Mary Barra’s compensation was  $28,979,570. The ratio of CEO pay to all employees was 362 to 1. 

Stellantis: The average employee earned $67,887, while CEO Carlos Tavares’ total compensation was $24.8 million. The ratio of CEO pay to all employees was 365 to 1.

Overall sales in first half of 2023

Ford: Ranked 3rd, ahead of No. 4 Hyundai/Kia. Sold just under 1 million light vehicles, for a 9.9 percent increase over 2022.

GM: Ranked 1st, ahead of Toyota. Sold 1.28 million light vehicles, an 18 percent increase.

Stellantis: Ranked 5th. Sold 806,810 light vehicles, a decrease of 1.3 percent.

EV sales in first half of 2023

Ford:  25,709 (up 10 percent); about 2.7 percent of its sales, according to Inside EVs

GM: 36,322 (up 373%) and about 2.8 percent share of its sales

Stellantis: Global sales up 24 percent to 169,000 vehicles.. The brand is the third largest EV maker in Europe.

U.S. Market share totaled 40.7 percent at year-end 2022: 

Ford: 13.8 percent

GM: 17.1 percent

Stellantis: 9.8

— Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Dingell says strike chance '50-50'

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, spoke to MSNBC on Thursday afternoon, when she said she put the chance of a strike at nearly even. 

The long-time union supporter said she was up all night and has been talking to people all day, in hopes of the United Auto Workers and Big Three legacy automakers reaching a resolution. 

“This is probably the most serious negotiation I’ve seen,” Dingell said. “The industry is at the crossroads of the future.”

Dingell noted that the industry is trying to get the EV transition right, but added that “we have to make sure that this transition is protecting the worker at the same time.”

Workers gave up their cost of living adjustments in 2008 and 2009, and the tiered wage system is unfair to people working the factories, she said. 

That has to be addressed, Dingell said, along with who makes EV batteries in the factories the automakers are establishing with Asian partners.

“I want them to be union workers and good-paying jobs,” Dingell said. 

She added: “I’m not going to let those vehicles be built in China.” — Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Cost of strike: $5.6B for 10 days

The potential price tag of a 10-day strike would be $5.6 billion in national economic loss, according to estimates released in August from Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing. 

The losses include just under $1 billion for the Big Three legacy auto manufacturers, each of which is expected to be targeted by walkouts if a contract isn’t signed by 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

Those figures are now widely circulated as the deadline draws closer.

Patrick Anderson, CEO of the group that published the forecast, told Bridge recently that Michigan is fortunate to remain the headquarters of the North American automobile industry. 

Calls over the years to diversify Michigan’s economy by turning away from auto manufacturing doesn’t take into account that the state has benefited from being the home of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, owner of the former Fiat-Chrysler, as well as numerous suppliers.

“The auto industry is one of the most valuable high tech and profitable highway generating industries in the entire world,” he said. “And most countries would give a lot of money to have what we have in the state of Michigan and we should nurture it and try to make it grow.”

The downside, he said, is that Michigan also is vulnerable to a labor disruption, particularly a UAW strike. That risk comes along with overall economic downturns that can suppress auto sales. The 2019 strike against General Motors led to what he called a “one-state recession.”

“If you want the benefits of being the home of the auto industry, you have to live with the risks. And that's what we're learning in September 2023 once again.” — Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Teamsters won't deliver cars during a strike

Truck drivers who deliver vehicles for Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis-owned Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat said they won’t cross UAW picket lines if the auto union goes on strike. 

“The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including our members in the carhaul industry, stand in solidarity with the United Auto Workers to get the best contract possible from America’s biggest automakers,” said general president Sean M. O’Brien, in a statement. 

“All UAW members deserve respect at work and dignity in retirement,” O’Brien said.  “They deserve strong wages in a new contract that rewards them for everything they do for the Big Three and to keep this country moving.”

Teamsters also work in warehouses, operate and repair ferries and build ships. Last month, the union negotiated a five-year contract for more than 340,000 UPS workers to raise wages for full-time and part-time workers. 

"We are 100% supportive of UAW workers and Shawn Fain's positions," said Kevin Moore, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 299, in Detroit.  "Our Teamsters will not cross strike lines." — Janelle D. James

Thursday, Sept. 14

GM CEO weighs in

With fewer than 10 hours until the strike deadline, General Motors CEO Mary Barra is now addressing the company’s manufacturing workers through an online letter with the latest offer details. 

The Detroit-based automaker is now offering a 20-percent wage boost over four years, with 10 percent in the first year. That compares to the UAW request of 46 percent. 

“We continue to bargain in good faith,” Barra said, noting the urgency and adding,  “I want to make sure you are completely informed. “

The deal also offers a 25-percent increase to the retiree health plan and better work-life balance, including two weeks of parental leave.

The automaker calls the proposal “a record offer,” and one that Barra said would allow the company to “sustain all of us for decades to come.”

Remember, Barra wrote, “we had a strike in 2019 and nobody won.” — Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Here are the UAW demands

A potential strike is growing closer to the 11:59 p.m. deadline for the United Auto Workers to reach a four-year agreement with the Big Three automakers: Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis, parent company of former Fiat-Chrysler. 

“It's time to decide what kind of world we want to live in and time to decide what we’re willing to do to get it,” said UAW National President Shawn Fain on Wednesday during a Facebook Live event. 

Current proposals for GM, Ford and Stellantis are similar across the board. Each has indicated since Fain’s comments that they are trying to avoid a strike.

Here are the UAW demands:

  • 40 percent wage increase of the next four years, 46 percent when compounded 
  • Cost-of-living increases
  • 32-hour work week with 40-hour pay 
  • A cap on the number of temporary workers, and convert them to full-time seniority employment after 90 days
  • More paid time off and additional holidays
  • Job security through what is called the Working Family Protection Program, which includes the right to strike over plant closures 
  • Significantly increase retiree pay — Janelle D. James

Thursday, Sept. 14

GM says it submitted another offer this morning

General Motors submitted another offer this morning, according to a Tweet from Detroit News reporter Kalea Hall. The automaker said it did so "with the goal of avoiding a work disruption."

screenshot of quote

— Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Big Three respond after UAW claims

The Big Three legacy automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellanis, now owner of Chrysler — each issued statements on Wednesday following the strike update presented by United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain.

Fain said a strike could still be avoided, but he called it likely — and said all three companies would be affected. 

Tobin Williams, senior vice president of Stellantis North America human resources, said the company presented a third offer to the UAW on Wednesday. Details were not available publicly from the company. 

“Since Monday, we have continued to meet with the UAW subcommittees to resolve outstanding issues, proof that we can work together to find solutions on tough subjects,” Williams wrote.  

He continued: “Our focus remains on bargaining in good faith to have a tentative agreement on the table before (Thursday’s 11:59 p.m.)  deadline. The future for our represented employees and their families deserves nothing less.”

General Motors leadership also said the company presented new offers. 

“We have made progress in key areas that we believe are most important to you,” the address to the company’s manufacturing workers said.

Ford’s statement was more strained, saying the company had put forth four offers with no “genuine counteroffer.”

“If there is a strike, it’s not because Ford didn’t make a great offer,” the company said. — Paula Gardner

Thursday, Sept. 14

Ford's ex-CEO warns both sides

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields warned in a CNN interview on Wednesday that the automakers could face a precarious financial situation if they yield to all of the UAW demands. 

Fields, who ran the Dearborn-based company from 2014-2017, noted that recent profits signal healthy balance sheets for Ford, GM and Stellantis. However, they reached that point after the Great Recession, when GM and the former Chrysler, now owned by Stellantis, filed for bankruptcy. All three companies had struggled under the weight of legacy costs. 

“The automakers can’t plead poverty,” Fields told CNN. “They will need to find a creative way to package a fair contract that rewards workers but do it in a way that doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”

If the UAW wins all of its demands, including restored pensions, Fields said automakers could weigh their labor costs and turn to foreign workers, shedding U.S. jobs. 

“The automakers are going to be very rational about this. If this is what my cost per unit is here in the US — including labor — and it’s uncompetitive, I’m going to have to move it to where it’s more competitive, like Mexico,” said Fields. — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 13

New strike style would impact all 3 automakers

The United Auto Workers is preparing what it calls a targeted, “stand-up strike” to “hit all three” major U.S. automakers after contracts expire at midnight Thursday.

“We are preparing to strike these companies in a way they’ve never seen before,” UAW National President Shawn Fain said Wednesday during a Facebook Live address that attracted nearly 30,000 viewers.

In an effort to create confusion, union locals will be called to strike with little notice, and could be asked to go back to work to keep the automakers engaged in contract negotiations, Fain said.

Fain said he plans to announce which union locals will strike at 10 p.m. Thursday. A rally is planned  at 4 p.m. Friday at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center in Detroit.

“This is our defining moment, and it’s time to go to work,” he said.

Negotiations between the UAW and the Big Three automakers have both sides “very far apart” despite some progress, said Fain, adding a complete general walkout is unlikely against Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of the former Fiat-Chrysler.

The union is seeking a 40 percent pay increase over the next four-year deal, restored pensions, the end of a two-tier wage system and job security from plant closures.

During the presentation, Fain said that Stellantis, a Dutch company with its American headquarters in Auburn Hills, wants the right to close and sell 18 facilities. 

Before rolling out the strike plan, Fain showed his grandmother’s Bible. He criticized “billionaire” automakers, and called on members to shed their fears to take an act of faith with the UAW. 

“We have a mission and a calling,” Fain said. “We fight not just for the good of our union and our members and our families. We fight for the entire working class and the poor.” — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 13

Biden monitoring talks

White House President Joe Biden called Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, and executives of the Big Three on Labor Day, "encouraging them to provide more forward-leaning offers and stay at the table," Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jared Bernstein said Wednesday.

Speaking at a White House briefing, Bernstein said Biden is monitoring the talks closely.

"Not only has he always fought for policies to ensure that workers get a fair deal, but he's explicitly talked about the electric vehicle future being made in America by American workers promoting strong and good paying union jobs."

Earlier Wednesday, former President Donald Trump wrote on social media that he wants the UAW "to make the complete and total repeal of Joe Biden’s insane Electric Vehicle mandate their top, non-negotiable demand in any strike.

"If that disastrous Biden policy is allowed to stand, the U.S. auto industry will cease to exist, and all your jobs will be sent to China," wrote the Republican former president who is running again for the top office. "That’s why there’s no such thing as a 'fair transition' to all electric cars. For the American Autoworker, that’s a transition to Hell. Nothing is more important than terminating this job-crushing mandate." 

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, who was a chief of staff for former President Barack Obama's auto bailout team in 2009, also issued a statement on Wednesday, saying unions "are the middle class" and need a fair contract.

"I saw what UAW members sacrificed to keep the Big Three in business," said Stevens, a Birmingham Democrat.

"Automakers recovered to make record profits, but workers’ wages are still stagnant. That’s not right. To ensure a just transition to the green economy and American competitiveness for generations to come, it is critical workers get dealt in as the electric vehicle market continues to grow. Workers deserve their fair share."

Wednesday, Sept. 13

Gilchrist expresses hope

Two Michigan officials at the North American Auto Show say they’re confident in the progress of negotiations before contracts expire at midnight Thursday.

“The deadline hasn’t come,” Lt. Garlin Gilchrist told Bridge Michigan after speaking on a panel about state recreation. “So there’s an opportunity for a deal.”

Doing so is in the best interest of the state, he added, since auto manufacturing is so vital to Michigan’s economy. 

“We want to make sure that (a deal) is fair for the workers who work in the company as well as the people who run them,” Gilchrist said.  

Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., told Bridge “the good news is that the UAW and Big Three are working hard.”

Messer said the strike threat hasn’t damaged Michigan’s potential to attract manufacturing companies, pointing to visitor turnout and exhibitors at the auto show. Wednesday is media day and also open to industry insiders, among others.

“Michigan is the center of mobility globally,” Messer said. “That's not going to change.” — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 13

Targeted strike possible?

Industry experts at the North American Internation Auto Show are backing published reports indicating the United Auto Workers may target a handful of factories with a strike, rather than a company-wide walkout.

“It seems like they’re going to go after strategic part plants for each of the (Big) Three, which have the ability, with a very limited number of UAW workers walking out, to affect the most assembly plants without a complete walkout,” Jeff Schuster, president of Troy-based Global Vehicle Forecasts at LMC Automotive, told Bridge Michigan on Wednesday.

A complete walkout of 150,000 UAW members would deplete the union’strike pay fund after about 11 weeks, Schuster said. Striking workers would receive $500 per week, and the fund is valued at $825 million.

If striking a few parts plants could affect 70 percent to 80 percent of assembly, “the strike could last longer,” Schuster said. 

“That seems to be the route they’re heading to,” he said of the UAW. “But it’s a wildcard.” — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 13

What to know about Shawn Fain

On the eve of a possible strike, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain will speak at 5 p.m. Thursday on the national UAW’s Facebook page

Fain uses the live videos to communicate with members and explain the UAW’s position and reactions. He also takes questions from viewers.

Here are things to know about Fain, 54, as contract talks move closer to the deadline:

An electrician by training, Fain was elected in March by just under 500 votes during a run-off election against incumbent Ray Curry. The election was the first popular vote for union president. 

This is Fain’s first national leadership role. He ran on a reform platform, promising changes to the UAW after scandals. His slogan was: “No concessions, no corruption, no tiers,” referring to the two-tier hiring and pay in Big Three factories since the Great Recession.

Fain also takes an aggressive approach with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. In recent weeks, on Facebook Live, he’s thrown offers in a trash can in videos and promised a strike if demands aren’t met. He also criticizes automaker profits in comparison to the offers made thus far.

It's not [that] we'll wreck the economy. We'll wreck their economy. The economy that only works for the billionaire class and not the working class,” Fain told CNN early this week.

First an electrician in a Stellantis factory in Kokomo, Indiana — which was chosen in May 2022 for a new EV battery plant — Fain later took on negotiating roles during Chrysler’s bankruptcy and became a UAW staff member in 2012. — Paula Gardner

Tuesday, Sept. 12

Stalemate comes amid record profits

The Big Three automakers and United Auto Workers continue to say they’re at a stalemate over contract negotiations, with each heading toward a potential showdown this week.

Contracts with about 150,000 hourly workers expire at midnight Thursday (Sept. 14) at Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, as well as Stellantis, the Dutch parent company of the former Fiat-Chrysler whose North American headquarters is in Auburn Hills.

Each of the auto companies has publicly responded to the UAW’s demands that include higher pay, the end of a two-tiered wage system for newer workers, restored pension benefits and job security amid factory reconfiguration and closures.

Related: As UAW strike looms, what to know about contract talks, Big Three finances

UAW President Shawn Fain told CNN there has been progress, but it “is still slow.”

Fain said his members are ready to strike because record industry profits haven’t been shared fairly with workers. The UAW seeks a 32-hour workweek with 40 hours pay and a 46 percent bump in compensation over the next four-year agreement.

“We are not going to stand by and allow you to drag out negotiations like you have in the past,” Fain said last week, addressing auto companies during a Facebook video. — Paula Gardner

Tuesday, Sept. 12

What a strike would cost Michigan

By any measure, Michigan likely would be hit harder than any other state if the United Auto Workers goes on strike at midnight Thursday.

Michigan has the highest percentage of workers in manufacturing jobs, it is No. 1 in automotive jobs and is home to dozens of factories that make parts and build vehicles.

Related: By the numbers: How many UAW members in Michigan, how much would strike cost

Here are the numbers that shape the impact:

600,000: That’s how many people in Michigan work in manufacturing. At 18.6 percent of the state workforce, that’s the highest rate in the nation and nearly double the 10.1 percent rate nationwide.

Nearly 300,000: Workers are connected to making vehicles — either for the Big Three directly or at the hundreds of shops, plants and other providers of automotive products.

12: Total vehicle assembly plants: Five GM plants (Detroit-Hamtramck, Flint, Lansing/Delta Township, Lansing/ Grand River, Lake Orion), four for Stellantis (two in Detroit, one each in Sterling Heights and Warren) and three Ford plants: in Dearborn, Flat Rock and Wayne.

$20.7 billion: Profits of Big Three in first half of 2023 ($12.1 billion, Stellantis; $4.9 billion, GM; $3.7 billion, Ford) 

2019: Last UAW strike, which was a six-week walkout by 48,000 members General Motors and idled 34 plants nationwide.

$4.2 billion: Estimated economic impact of that strike, which Michigan economist Patrick Anderson says launched the state into a one-quarter recession.

$5.6 billion: Estimated economic impact of a 10-day UAW strike against all three automakers, including $859 million in lost wages and $989 million in car manufacturer losses, according to Anderson. — Mike Wilkinson

How impactful was this article for you?

Business Watch

Covering the intersection of business and policy, and informing Michigan employers and workers on the long road back from coronavirus.

Thanks to our Business Watch sponsors.

Support Bridge's nonprofit civic journalism. Donate today.

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now