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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

UAW will extend strike pay to 600 laid-off Ford workers, potential GM layoffs

The United Auto Workers’ targeted approach to striking the Big Three has already tipped dominoes and stymied other areas of production.

The UAW has decided to offer the $500 weekly strike pay to any workers who are laid off as a result of the strike.

About 600 Ford employees were left in limbo temporarily as their work was idled as their neighboring division walked out. It’s possible the same will happen for General Motors workers in Kansas City as part production is stopped at a striking Missouri plant.

The union maintains that it is a company decision to trigger layoffs. UAW President Shawn Fain said layoffs were a way for the Big Three to “squeeze on our members to settle for less.”

“Their plan won’t work,” Fain said. “The UAW will make sure any worker laid off in the Big Three’s latest attack will not go without an income. We’ll organize one day longer than they can and go the distance to win economic and social justice at the Big Three.”

Related: UAW President Shawn Fain responds to Ford, GM layoffs: ‘Their plan won’t work’

The UAW strike fund is estimated to sit at $825 million. Paying out nearly 150,000 UAW members simultaneously across the nation would limit the strike length to less than three months, experts say. The UAW’s rolling strike is seen as a cost-saving measure as well as giving the union the element of surprise.

But adding laid-off workers to payroll, plus undetermined healthcare costs, could cut more quickly into that fund.

About 13,000 workers were selected Friday to strike, meaning the UAW is spending approximately $6.5 million daily so far, not including laid off workers. Monday marked the fourth day of the strike.

Sources familiar with the UAW negotiating team said there has been movement on demands and leadership continued to meet with all three companies over the weekend and into Monday.

A statement from Stellantis characterized Monday’s bargaining discussion as “constructive and focused on where we can find common ground to reach an agreement that provides a bridge to the future by enabling the company to meet the challenges of electrification.”

Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne was chosen as the strike target against Ford, and it is the only selected Michigan plant. At midnight Friday, Sept. 15, approximately 3,300 Ford workers were officially on strike. Specifically, the paint and final assembly workers.

That left about 600 non-striking UAW workers in the body construction department and south sub-assembly area of integrated stamping without components they needed from the striking department. Ford told them not to report to work on Friday, officially issuing the first layoffs of the strike.

On Friday, the line to sign up for benefits snaked around Local 900′s union hall across from the Ford picket line.

“Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy will have knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage,” Ford said in a statement.

The UAW’s strike target at GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri already had a “negative ripple effect” the company said in a statement.

The Fairfax Assembly in Kansas will likely have to idle as soon as next week, laying off 2,000 workers. Wentzville supplies critical stamping operations needed to move forward with production at Fairfax, GM said.

“We have said repeatedly that nobody wins in a strike, and that effects go well beyond our employees on the plant floor and negatively impact our customers, suppliers and the communities where we do business. What happened to our Fairfax team members is a clear and immediate demonstration of that fact,” GM said.

“We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible for the benefit of our team members, customers, suppliers and communities across the U.S. In the meantime, our priority is the safety of our workforce.”

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