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UAW president says deal still far apart, lays out strategy for 'targeted' nationwide strikes against Big Three

Local economists say a prolonged strike could cost West Michigan's economy as much as $150 million a week.

MICHIGAN, USA — A strike deadline is quickly approaching as the UAW and Detroit's three automakers try to reach a new contract.

The union president updated members on negotiations Wednesday afternoon during a Facebook live.

He says there has been movement in the form of small concessions, but both sides remained far apart ahead of Friday's midnight deadline.

All three, President Shawn Fain said, denied the union's request for a 46% pay increase, with Ford making the strongest counter-offer of a 20% raise. The automakers also rejected the union's demands related to pensions, cost of living increases and protection against plant closures.

The response to its profit sharing demands in particular, Fain said, would have actually resulted in smaller paychecks. Fain told rank and file members the union would be willing do what's necessary to secure a strong deal.

"They want to scare the American people into thinking the auto workers are the problem. We're not the problem," Fain said. "Corporate greed is the problem. And come tomorrow night, if they force us, we're about to make it the big three's problem. We said we're going to do things differently this round of negotiations, and I think we can all agree we've kept that promise." 

The union president proceeded to lay out the UAW's strike strategy if a national deal isn't reached, calling for smaller, targeted strikes against select facilities and locations.

The possibility of striking against all three—Ford, General Motors and Stellantis—at once, Fain said, had never occurred before but remained the likely outcome.

Responding to the dozens of comments submitted during the livestream, which at its peak, garnered an audience of more than 30,000 users, Fain dismissed the possibility of an initial union-wide strike at every member facility as counter to leadership's strategy, but told members:

"Just because you keep working, doesn't mean you stop organizing," he added.  

Local economists say a prolonged strike could cost West Michigan's economy as much as $150 million a week.


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