US auto union chief calls on 7,000 more members to strike


(MENAFN- AFP)

The biggest US automobile workers' union, UAW, called on 7,000 more members to join an already major strike against the top three Detroit car manufacturers Friday.

United Auto Workers' president Shawn Fain urged workers at Ford and General Motors (GM) plants in Chicago and Michigan to join the first ever joint-strike at the "Big Three" Detroit automakers -- Ford, GM and Stellantis -- in a push for higher salaries and other improvements.

"I'm calling on Ford's Chicago assembly plant to stand up and go on strike, and I'm calling on GM's Lansing Delta Township to stand up and go out on strike," Fain said in a message live-streamed on YouTube.

"Our courageous members at these two plans are the next wave of reinforcements in our fight for record contracts", he added.

The UAW union has asked for a 40 percent pay raise over the next four-year contract, while the three companies have been offering raises of around 20 percent.

If the strike goes ahead as planned, the additional 7,000 workers will join more than 18,000 workers -- around 13 percent of the membership -- who are already on strike in 41 facilities across 21 states.

The union has used the targeted strike, which began on September 15, as a bargaining chip, ramping up the pressure on the three auto makers to reach a deal.

In his speech Friday, Fain did not call on any additional members working for Chrysler producer Stellantis to go on strike, citing "significant progress" in negotiations.

"We are excited about this momentum at Stellantis and hope it continues," he said.

"Until then, we will keep building our arsenal of democracy and we will win," he added.

- The strike gets political -

The strike has ramped up the significance of Michigan's swing state status in the 2024 presidential election.

Earlier this week, Joe Biden became the first sitting US president to stand on a picket line, joining UAW members in Michigan in a bold pitch for blue collar votes against likely election rival Donald Trump.

Wearing a United Auto Workers (UAW) union baseball cap, the Democrat used a bullhorn to tell red-shirted employees they deserved "a hell of a lot more than what you're getting."

Former Republican president Donald Trump also traveled to Michigan this week to address a rally.

On Friday, Fain called Biden's visit a "historic day."

"The most powerful man in the world shows up for one reason only," he said. "Because our solidarity is the most powerful force in the world."

"When we stand together united in the cause of economic and social justice, there's nothing we can't do," he added.

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