The United Auto Workers Union has been slowly expanding and growing, announcing more and more factories and companies they are striking as they go on. They started back in mid-September, originally only striking against the Detroit Big Three: Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors. They have now expanded they are striking to include a factory manufacturing Ram trucks. This expanded the number of strikers by 6,800, as that was the rough count of people who walked out of the factory.
Just days before this factory was included, the President of the Union, Shawn Fain, called out Stellantis in particular out of the companies being struck against. Stellantis is the parent company of Ram. In his statement, he said they are “trying to lowball and undercut” the union in the contract negotiations. Fain also shared that the proposed offers from Stellantis have been “significantly weaker” than the offers made by Ford and General Motors.
With this expansion of the strike, approximately 40,000 United Auto Workers members are on strike.
The union’s requests of the companies include pay raises over a four-year contract that would be more than a 40% increase. They also are fighting for a shorter workweek, better pensions for retirees, stronger health care, room for adjustment based on cost-of-living adjustments, and an end to wage tiers. So far in offers made, some requests have been met including bonuses, some improved benefits, and a 20% pay increase over the duration of the contract.
The union has been basing their strike on the “stand up strike” technique. This has been why the strike has been slowing rolling out across different factories and different companies. With each new plant that goes on strike, they are given approximately two hours’ notice. They give limited notice because the workers all know to be on standby, and the limited notice allows the companies themselves to not anticipate the strike, nor make preparations.
Also, by doing slow rollouts of the strike, the UAW is able to elongate the strike as long as they need. The union is paying those on strike $100 a day for each day they are on strike. Only having some plants on strike at a time allows them to slowly dip into their $800 million budget for strike pay.