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UAW president announces 'major breakthrough' in labor negotiations

United Auto Workers union president Shawn Fain halted strike expansions after General Motors agreed to a concession on unionizing EV battery plants.
UAW president announces 'major breakthrough' in labor negotiations
Posted at 1:03 PM, Oct 06, 2023

After expanding its labor strike for two consecutive weeks, United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain announced Friday that Detroit's Big Three automakers have staved off even more walkouts after a "major breakthrough" in negotiations.

"We were about to shut down GM's largest moneymaker in Alrington, Texas. The company knew those members were ready to walk immediately, and just that threat has provided a transformative win," Fain said. "GM has now agreed, in writing, to place their electric battery manufacturing under our national master agreement. We've been told for months this is impossible."

In addition to GM allowing the UAW to unionize electric vehicle battery plants, Fain said all three automakers — GM, Ford, and Stellantis — have also made "big strides" in wage progression, but that there's still progress to be made. 

Meanwhile, Ford and Stellantis have also agreed to reinstate workers' cost-of-living allowance to help keep wages steady with inflation, and GM is "not far behind," Fain added.

"Our strike is working, but we're not there yet," he said. "Everything we've done to this point has been with one goal in mind: To win a record contract that reflects the Big Three's profits."

SEE MORE: Ford, GM furlough an additional 500 workers in response to UAW strike

Last week, the UAW expanded its strike to an additional 7,000 members at Ford and GM, bringing the total to more than 25,000 workers walking off the job. In response, both companies furloughed an additional 500 workers at four plants. GM has said it lost about $200 million in the first two weeks of the strike.

The UAW has been demanding double-digit pay increases for all workers, the elimination of its tiered wage system, more paid time off, and a four-day work week while still getting 40 hours of pay, among other things. Some striking workers say they're ready to return to their jobs, but only if their demands are met.   

"We're ready to go back to work whenever we can get a fair deal," said Tiffanie Simmons of UAW Local 900 in Wayne, Michigan. "Nobody wanted to do this, nobody wanted to strike, but this is something that we felt we had to do."

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