BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A historic strike is hanging over the heads of America’s three unionized automakers.
Corporate leaders with GM, Ford and Stellantis has been meeting with the United Auto Workers at the bargaining table to try and hammer out a deal, but if one is not reached by midnight Thursday into Friday, workers could be walking off the job.
“We’re still very far apart on our key priorities. From job security to ending tiers, from cost of living allowance to wage increases – we do not yet have offers on the table that reflect the sacrifice and contributions our members have made to these companies,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.
Roughly 3,000 local UAW members could be affected if the union decides to go on strike.
Union leaders told News 4 on Thursday night that no local plants will be affected in the first round of targeted strikes. The workers who are based locally will be working under an expired agreement. UAW president Shawn Fain said that the union will do a union-wide strike if necessary.
“I don’t think there’s one member that we represent that doesn’t realize the significance of what we’re doing,” said Jimmy Lakeman, UAW Local 9 international representative.
One of the major sticking points for UAW is fair wages. One of their initial demands was an immediate 20-percent raise, with an additional five-percent raise each year for four years. Fain said the company has seen record profits, but only the CEOs and shareholders are reaping the benefits.
“We’re a stakeholder; labor is a stakeholder,” Lakeman said. “They do not treat us the same as they treat their stockholders and their management and their executives. If all of them are making money, the people that are making the products should be making the same percentage.”
There are three “big three” plants in Western New York. GM has plants in Tonawanda and Lockport, and Ford has a plant in Hamburg. This means thousands of local workers could walk out if their called upon by the union.
Fain said UAW will use “Stand Up” strikes, where only certain locations will walk the picket line. As time goes on, more plants would be added to the list of those on strike.
“None of this should be a surprise to any three of these manufacturers,” Lakeman said. “We’ve all contributed blood, sweat and tears in money and benefits to make them as successful as they are today, recording record profits – 22 billion – and we haven’t gotten everything we’ve given up.”
Fain said he plans to address UAW members again Thursday at 10 p.m. where he’s expected to give more details on which plants would strike if a deal is not made by midnight.