UAW President Shawn Fain Sets Noon Friday Deadline for Companies to Meet Demands

Transcript: In a live speech Monday, Fain called on autoworkers to be ready to join the strike if they have to.

Shawn Fain

UAW president Shawn Fain speaks with members of the media and members of the UAW outside of the UAW Local 900 headquarters across the street from the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan on September 15, 2023. MATTHEW HATCHER/AFP via Getty Images

Hey UAW family. Last week, we announced the launch of the Stand-Up Strike. I want to give a major shout out to the thousands of members who are on the picket line right now, fighting for all of us. For the first time in our union’s history, we’re on strike at all three of the Big Three. 

The stand up strike is a new approach to striking. Instead of striking all plants all at once, select locals will be called on to stand up and walk out on strike. This is our generation’s answer to the movement that built our union: the sit-down strikes of 1937

Then, as now, we faced massive inequality across our society. Then, as now, our industry is rapidly changing, and workers are being left behind. Then, as now, our labor movement is redefining itself. 

The Big Three have made over a quarter trillion dollars in North American profits over the last 10 years. They made $21 billion in profits in the first half of this year. The Big Three CEOs have increased their already massive salaries by an average of 40% over the last four years, while the companies have poured billions into stock buybacks and special dividends to enrich Wall Street. 

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Car companies are fleecing consumers right now. In the past four years, the average price of a new car is up 30%. You think UAW wages are driving that increase? Think again. Our pay has risen a mere 6% over the last four years. Due to inflation, an auto worker today is making less in real wages than we made 20 years ago. That’s why we have chosen to stand up. 

We’re taking a stand against corporate greed. We’re taking a stand against inequality. And we’re taking a stand to end tiers, to win back [the] Cost of Living Allowance, to raise wages and protect our communities from plant closures. 

We told the Big Three that September 14th was a deadline, and we meant it. We gave the companies our economic demands eight weeks ago. It took them more than a month to get to the table. We had to file federal charges against two of them at the labor board to get them to start bargaining in good faith. Our members have been clear about our demands, and we know the companies can afford to make things right. Record profits mean record contracts.

We're taking a stand against corporate greed. We're taking a stand against inequality.

We’ve been available 24/7 to bargain a deal that recognizes our members’ sacrifices and contributions to these record profits. Still, the Big Three failed to get down to business. That’s why last week our brave union family at Wentzville Assembly, Toledo Assembly and Final Assembly and Paint departments at Michigan Assembly were called on to stand up and go out on strike. And that’s exactly what they did.

Just as importantly, all the rest of you stayed on the job. That is the only way the strategy works. We’re going to keep hitting the company where we need to, when we need to, and we’re not going to keep waiting around forever while they drag this out. 

I have been clear with the Big Three every step of the way, and I’m going to be crystal clear again right now. If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22nd, more locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike. That will mark more than a week since our first members walked out. And that will mark more than a week of the Big Three failing to make progress in negotiations toward reaching a deal that does right by our members. Auto workers have waited long enough to make things right at the Big Three. We’re not waiting around and we’re not messing around.

So noon on Friday, September 22nd, is a new deadline. Either the Big Three get down to business and work with us to make progress in negotiations, or more locals will be called on to stand up and go out on strike. Between now and then, UAW members will keep organizing actions. Those on strike will remain on strike. And those on the job will keep monitoring for unilateral changes made by management, which are not allowed under an expired contract. 

Keep organizing rallies. Keep organizing red shirt days. Keep up the energy, and keep showing the companies that you are ready to join the strike if necessary. 

This is our generation’s defining moment. So be ready to stand up. 

Shawn Fain is the President of the United Automobile Workers.

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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