The United Auto Workers on Friday expanded its strike against the Big Three automakers to another Ford and General Motors plant, where more than 7,000 employees walked off the job.
Union workers at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant and a GM factor in Delta Township, Michigan, joined the strike. Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep, was spared an additional strike because UAW President Shawn Fain said the union has made progress in contract talks with the Italian-American conglomerate.
This latest expansion of the strike, which began Sept. 15, means about 25,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 workers are on strike at 43 locations around the country.
UAW workers are also poised to go on strike at Mack Trucks when the union’s contract expires at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. The union has roughly 3,500 members working at five Mack Truck facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.
“We won’t back down now, we know America has out back,” Mr. Fain said during a Facebook Live speech.
Mr. Fain said talks are continuing with all three companies but acknowledged “productive” conversations with Stellantis on issues including a cost-of-living allowance and the right to strike over plant closures.
In a statement, General Motors said, “Calling more strikes is just for the headlines, not real progress.”
“We still have not received a comprehensive counteroffer from UAW leadership to our latest proposal made on Sept. 21,” the company said. “The number of people negatively impacted by these strikes is growing and includes our customers who buy and love the products we build.”
Friday’s walkout is the second expansion of the strike. In the first phase, workers walked off the job at one manufacturing facility for each company. The second phase started last Friday when workers struck at dozens of distribution centers belonging to GM and Stellantis.
The growing walkout comes just days after President Biden joined the picket line with UAW members in Wayne County, Michigan. Mr. Biden is the first U.S. president to appear on a picket line to support striking workers.
The UAW’s demands include a 40% pay increase in pay over four years, cost-of-living adjustments, increased retirement benefits, restoration of pensions, and 40-hour pay for a 32-hour workweek.
Automakers have countered with pay increases of about 20% along with bonuses and other benefits along with the restoration of the workers’ platinum healthcare plan.
The Big Three have also responded by laying off thousands of workers at plants impacted by the strikes. GM stopped production at a manufacturing plant, laying off the roughly 2,000 people working there.
GM said there was no work at the plant because union members at another assembly plant were on strike.
The same day, Stellantis laid off 68 workers at a plant in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Economists have warned that while the U.S. has yet to see any major impact from the strike, the longer it lasts, the more damage it could do to the economy. It also increases the likelihood of a recession.