United Auto Workers on strike: 'It's going to effect everybody'

Thousands of UAW workers nationally are going on strike, while Western New York auto workers are not just yet
Members of Local 897 "practice picketing"
Hamburg, N.Y. - Members of Local 897 "practice picketing" at their headquarters on Lake Shore Road on Sept. 8, 2023. Photo credit Max Faery - WBEN

(WBEN) - About 13,000 U.S. auto workers across the country stopped making vehicles on Friday to go on strike as three big Detroit-based automakers failed to come to a contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union.

According to the Associated Press, Members of the United Auto Workers union began picketing at a General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan, near Detroit; and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Although planned to do so, our United Auto Workers here in Western New York have not officially gone on strike yet, and are operating on an expired contract. The contract expired Thursday at midnight.

"I'm sure there's a lot of questions out there. It's more of the fear of the unknown. But, I know the message has been conveyed down to the local leaders to explain the strategic strategy to the membership. I believe President Fain laid that strategy out. I just ask that all of our membership stand together and stand united. If we're called upon to stand up and strike, that's what we'll do," said Ray Jensen, UAW Region 9 Assistant Director Ray Jensen.

"That was also laid out from the legal team, from the International, what it means to work under an expired contract. Most everything is still included in the contract under status quo. But there's some things that are not and that was also conveyed to the local leadership to convey to the membership. So again, we just have to continue to do our job."

Car Coach Lauren Fix says this strike is going to affect everybody.

"I think Shawn Fain, who's the president of UAW, is very well aware of the impact and so to not destroy the economy, because remember, the auto industry is a huge part of it. It's not just the carmakers, it's all the sub suppliers. In the Buffalo area, we've got places like Moog, and other places that make level two and tier three products. So the impact is going to be we can't ship product, they don't need the product because they don't have workers to make it now. Right now, it's just going to be a little painful, until they get what they want."

While the exact timeline is unknown for when Western New York auto workers will commence their strikes, the union groups will continue to prime themselves for the strike, via practice pickets or solidarity rally.

"Just practice pickets, you know, solidarity events, just something that we've been doing as part of our contract campaign. As you saw with Teamsters, [they] were able to get a tentative agreement and not go on strike, but we will be asking the locals to continue to do solidarity events or practice pickets. Just to show those folks that we are standing with them, and we support them as long as it takes."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Max Faery - WBEN