US LABOR DAY: UAW Files Charges Against Big Automakers

With contracts close to expiring, the labor union filed unfair labor practice charges against General Motors and Stellantis, accusing the major carmakers of illegally refusing to bargain in good faith.

UAW President Shawn Fain, left, in recent labor demonstration in Detroit. (UAW, Twitter)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

The United Auto Workers has filed unfair labor practice charges against General Motors and Stellantis, accusing the major carmakers of illegally refusing to bargain in good faith as the union seeks substantial wage increases and benefit improvements.

UAW President Shawn Fain announced the charges during a livestream late Thursday, just two weeks before the union’s contracts with GM, Stellantis and Ford — the so-called “Big Three” automakers — are set to expire.

“I’m sad to report that the Big Three are either not listening, or they are not taking us seriously,” said Fain, who noted that he directly warned the automakers’ CEOs not to drag out contract talks with the goal of forcing the union to swallow a milquetoast contract at the last minute.

The UAW outlined its demands — which include a 46 percent wage increase over four years, more paid time off, and the elimination of tiers that leave newer workers with paltry pay and benefits — a month ago.

“Both General Motors and Stellantis have failed to give us any economic counters,” Fain said. “GM and Stellantis’ willful refusal to bargain in good faith is not only insulting and counterproductive, it’s also illegal. That’s why today our union filed unfair labor practice charges, or ULPs, against both GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board.”

[On Friday, the labor board said it will investigate the charges.]  

According to a Gallup poll released last week, 75 percent of the U.S. public sides with UAW members over Big Three management in the contract negotiations.

Fain stressed that the union’s “strongest line of defense” against the automakers’ obstruction and union-busting is “our ability to take collective action.”

“Our goal is not to strike. Our goal is to bargain a fair contract,” said Fain, who was elected as UAW’s president earlier this year. “But if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will.”

GM and Stellantis dismissed Fain’s allegations of law-breaking as “frivolous” and without merit.

“You can’t make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract,” Fain said.

Fain’s announcement of ULP charges against the two of the Big Three automakers came as Ford countered UAW’s offer with a proposed 9 percent wage increase over four years as well as “a reduction of the time it takes workers to reach the top of the wage scale from eight to six years, elimination of wage tiers, a 20% starting wage increase for temporary workers to $20 per hour, $5,500 ratification bonuses, and $12,000 over four years in what the company calls a “cost-of-living adjustment bonus,” The Detroit News reported.

One worker at Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant told the newspaper that the company’s counter is “nothing short of a slap in the face.”

“We have plenty of temps here making $16.70 an hour, and they’re barely getting by—$20, that isn’t much better,” the worker said. “Ford has a long way to go if they want to get our members’ support on a contract.”

Fain said that “Ford’s wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth.”

The UAW announced on Aug. 25 that 97 percent of participating members at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis voted to authorize a strike if an adequate contract deal with management isn’t reached by Sept. 14.

“I know our demands are ambitious, but I’ve told the companies repeatedly, I’m not the reason that members’ expectations are so high,” Fain said. “What’s driving members’ expectations are the Big Three’s profits. You can’t make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract.”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.


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5 comments for “US LABOR DAY: UAW Files Charges Against Big Automakers

  1. Abbie
    September 5, 2023 at 12:59

    The UAW are the same people who have negotiated one ‘concession’ contract after another. Modern American unions do not know what a victory looks like. They only know what concession after concession looks like. They concede to the Bosses. Over and over and over and …

    A real union would have updates from the ‘bargaining committee’ to the members of the Union. The workers in the Union would be kept informed about the negotiations. These days, every negotiation is considered to be ‘Top Secret’, as are the details of the contract that results. The workers are forced to very quickly vote on the new deal, when they can not even study the deal because all they get to see are ‘highlights’ from the union while the contract that will control their work lives is kept top-secret.

    America needs real unions. Real unions are bottom-up, not top-down. This is top-down. This is the guy on top, elected by a very tiny percentage of union members, making dictates from the top.

    Auto workers need to demand real updates from the bargaining committee, and a look at the full text of the contract with time to study it before being rushed into a vote.

  2. Lois Gagnon
    September 4, 2023 at 15:29

    The neoliberal new world order is about preventing the public from exercising any political power over corporate control. I would not be surprised to see Biden decide an auto workers strike is illegal knowing liberals won’t punish him at the ballot box for it.

  3. Em
    September 4, 2023 at 12:00

    A perfectly fitting day to laboriously belabor the point of US international political machinations in its pursuance of global hegemony in all spheres of intercourse.

    In the year 2023 one hundred and eighty-three countries celebrate May 1st, in honor of international ‘Labor Day’ solidarity, but not the US and Canada – one of its ‘errand boys’, whose long-time tradition does not suit them.
    They opt instead, out of sync with the majority, to ‘honor’ the ‘memory’ of all the working heroes, on the first Monday in September. How come??? For what purpose??? To engender discord among nations is the first thought that comes to mind!

    No one, actually ‘cognizantly’ alive today, remembers first-hand, anything about the ‘Haymarket massacre’ which took place after a bombing at a labor demonstration – protesting for an eight-hour work day, in Chicago on May 4th 1886.
    Now, hows that for international coincidental correspondence???

    International Labor Day was first established in 1889 by an international federation (organizations associating cooperatively – the apotheosis of democracy) of socialists and trade unionists.
    However, the mere words ‘socialist’ and ‘trade unionist’ are still the boogeyman, to this very day; enough to trigger US paranoia against any cooperative organizing efforts of international populaces that do not wholly comport with the US self-anointed notion of it alone being hegemonic world-policing hegemon.

    Cui bono???

  4. Anon
    September 4, 2023 at 01:10

    Hate to say…
    Will Federal Govt prohibit auto strikes as well (as chip in Engineered Austerity policy)?
    In fact… Why not prohibit Labor Day too?

    • Abbie
      September 5, 2023 at 13:01

      The fake American ‘Labor Day’ is useful as a placebo to the workers. They don’t even hold it on the real ‘Labor Day’, which is May 1 everywhere else in the world. So, the last part will not happen. But for the rest, yep. If it costs Wall Street money, then it will be made illegal. Them’s the Rules in the Rules Based Order

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