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UAW opts not to expand strike, citing progress in talks with Detroit


The United Auto Workers union announced Friday that General Motors had agreed to put battery manufacturing facilities for electric vehicles into its national union contract and that Ford has boosted its proposed wage increase to 23 percent over four years — signs of progress that led the union not to widen its strike to more factories for now.

“We are winning, we are making progress, and we are heading in the right direction,” UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday in a live stream on Facebook, wearing a union T-shirt that read, “Eat the rich.” “Strikes, and the threat of strikes by a unified membership, are what deliver.”

He described GM’s concessions on batteries as a major win, which he said was prompted by a threat to expand the strike to an additional GM facility in Arlington, Tex. The union has been worried that future battery factories will offer lower wages and less job security than current factories do, and has pushed the Big Three Detroit automakers — Ford, GM and Jeep-maker Stellantis — to commit to including those new facilities in the overall union contract.

The UAW still hasn’t struck deals with any of the Big Three automakers, however, and plans a large rally outside a striking Ford plant in Chicago on Saturday afternoon, with Fain scheduled to speak.

The union in recent weeks has been seeking a 36 percent wage increase over four years. GM and Stellantis are still offering roughly 20 percent, with Ford slightly higher.

As auto factories go dark with strike, small suppliers lay off thousands

The strike to date includes only about 17 percent of the UAW’s 150,000 autoworker members, with the union ordering the rest to continue working for now. The walkout involves two Ford factories, two at GM and one at Stellantis, along with dozens of auto-parts warehouses owned by Stellantis and GM.

The strike is also spilling over to affect thousands of nonstriking workers. The Big Three have temporarily laid off nearly 4,000 nonstriking workers, saying that their plants can’t operate as normal because they depend on items produced at striking facilities.

The work stoppage is also rippling out to hit automotive suppliers across the country, with some firms in Michigan and Ohio resorting to temporary layoffs and warning that bankruptcy looms if the strike carries on much longer.

More than 3,000 supplier employees have been temporarily laid off so far, a Washington Post tally shows, while an industry association says nearly 30 percent of its supplier members have resorted to layoffs.

Beyond the auto sector, U.S. Steel blamed the strike and the prospect of weaker orders for its decision to idle a blast furnace in Granite City, Ill., and temporarily lay off 300 workers.

General Motors and Stellantis shares were down by about 1 percent in early Friday trading, while Ford fell by about 1.6 percent.



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