On September 14 at 11:59 p.m., about 13,000 members of the United Auto Workers engaged in the first wave of Stand Up strikes expected at the Big Three auto makers: Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors.
Members of UAW Local 2250 in Region 4, who work at the GM Wentzville Assembly plant, members at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex from Local 12 in Region 2B, and UAW members at Ford Michigan Assembly Plant – Final Assembly and Paint, Local 900 in Region 1A are ON STRIKE. The workers at the other plants that were not called up to strike will work without a contract, for now.
In a Facebook live event held hours before the strike deadline, UAW President Sean Fain told members, “I know that our demands are ambitious, but I’ve told the companies repeatedly, I’m not the reason that members’ expectations are so high. What’s driving members’ expectations are the Big Three’s profits. You cannot make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract. You can’t make a quarter trillion dollars in North American profits over the last decade and expect us to keep aiming low and settling lower. Our campaign slogan is simple: record profits mean record contracts.”
Since negotiations began, the UAW has made clear that they would not settle for a contract that doesn’t address their main concerns. Their demands include a cap on the use of temporary workers and the conversion of temp workers to full-time seniority employment after 90 days. Double-digit pay increases to match increases of the Big Three CEOs and to catch up with inflation. Cost of living adjustments to also keep up with inflation, increases in pension benefits for current retirees and restoring pensions for new hires, among other benefits.
## **What is the Stand Up Strike?**
The UAW says the Stand Up Strike is “our generation’s answer to the movement that built our union, the Sit-Down Strikes of 1937.”
The union explains that the strike will grow over time, giving their national negotiators maximum leverage and maximum flexibility to win a record contract.
This idea, says UAW, is a new approach to striking. “Instead of striking all plants at once, select locals will be called on to “Stand Up” and walk out on strike.”
Those locals not called on to strike will be working under expired agreements, which, the union says, is part of its strategy.
Under an expired agreement, the company may not legally change terms and conditions of employment except that it no longer must arbitrate disputes, the union says. Because of that, they warn employees to carefully follow all standard operating procedures, safety policies and supervisor instructions. The also advise for members to call for a committee person if they are disciplined, asked to do work they aren’t trained to do or work that is unsafe.
President Biden came out in support of the strikes in comments made after the strike began. In his remarks, President Biden echoed Fain saying, “Record corporate profits… should be shared by record contracts for the UAW.”
Biden says he is sending acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling to help the parties reach an agreement. He called on both sides to return to the negotiating table for as long as it takes to reach an agreement.