DETROIT (Michigan News Source) – After several months of unresolved labor contract negotiations, the United Auto Workers have begun their strike against Michigan’s Big Three Automakers- Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, targeting plants in and beyond Michigan’s borders. 

The UAW initiated its strike, activating union members at the GM Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, and the Final Assembly and Paint Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. 

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“Today, America’s auto workers are in the fight of our lives,” UAW President Shawn Fain said on social media. “The fight for a decent standard of living. The fight for wages that grow with inflation. The fight to retire with dignity. The fight to protect our communities against plant closures. The fight for better work life balance so we can see our children grow up and our parents grow old.” 

Harkening back to the founding of the UAW, Fain applauded the GM auto workers who shutdown the automaker for 44 days before achieving their goal. 

“They had won their union and a contract,” he said. “The creativity, discipline, and defiant spirit of autoworkers was contagious.” 

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Similar to the Sit-Down Strike of the early years, Fain challenged auto union members to take part in the Stand-Up Strike. 

“This is a strike that starts small and builds over time as more and more of us stand up and join the fight,” he said. “This is a strike that keeps the companies guessing as to where and when the next local [union post] will walk out.” 

But unlike former strikes, this strike would also be broader. 

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“And just as importantly, we are striking the Big Three, all three,” Fain added. “We told them September 14th is a deadline and we meant it.” 

The legal representation for the UAW, Ben Dictor, also shared with union members some of the things to expect in the day to day while working under an expired contract agreement. 

“As part of the stand up strike, some of us will be working without a contract,” Dictor said. “This is an essential part of our strategy to keep the companies off balance by calling locals out on strike based on what is happening in negotiations.” 

“That will keep them guessing and turbocharge your national negotiators in bargaining with the the Big Three,” he added. 

General Motors responded late Thursday evening to the auto union’s notice of the impending strike, just hours after it had submitted another contract proposal with increased wages. 

“We are disappointed by the UAW leadership’s actions, despite the unprecedented economic package GM put on the table, including historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments,” the statement 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,” GM Officials said according to the Detroit Free Press. 

Stellantis shared a similar sentiment in a statement. 

“We are extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership’s refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement in the best interest of our employees, their families and our customers. We immediately put the Company in contingency mode and will take all the appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the Company,” Stellantis Officials said according to the Detroit Free Press. 

In the final hours before the proposed strike, Ford Motor Company released a statement sharing its complaints about negotiations with the UAW. 

“Unfortunately, the UAW’s counterproposal tonight showed little movement from the union’s initial demands submitted Aug. 3,” Ford’s statement read. “If implemented, the proposal would more than double Ford’s current UAW-related labor costs, which are already significantly higher than the labor costs of Tesla, Toyota and other foreign-owned automakers in the United States that utilize non-union-represented labor.”

Previously, the auto union authorized a strike for its more than 150,000 members across the Big Three Companies.