WAYNE (WWJ) – The UAW strike – a historic first ever against all three Detroit automakers – entered a fourth day on Monday.
As workers picketed outside the Ford Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, they temporarily blocked vehicles from getting in and out of the plant, according to WWJ’s Charlie Langton.
While the picketers eventually allowed them to get through after police arrived, Langton reports the workers, taking six-hour shifts around the clock, say this strike is about more than just a new auto contract – it’s about the middle class.
“We all have to stick together. As a middle class, we have to stick together. That’s the bigger picture. We’re fighting for what the middle class deserves,” Karina Russell of Romulus told Langton outside the plant early Monday morning.
James Bush of Detroit, who has worked for Ford for three decades, says he likes the approach UAW President Shawn Fain is taking in this unprecedented strike.
“I think he has some transparency and I think he’s honest and I think he’s trying to work for the benefit of the whole union. Not just Ford, but (Stellantis) and GM. The whole union – all of us, the brotherhood,” he said.
Over the weekend Fain spoke on several national TV shows, saying “progress is slow” as negotiations continue, but said “I don’t really want to say we’re closer.” Fain hinted that more plants could be told to strike as part of the UAW’s new “Stand Up Strike” approach.
“If we don’t get better offers and we don’t get down to taking care of the members’ needs, then we’re gonna amp this thing up even more,” Fain said.
It was not exactly clear when or where that may happen.
Fain seems to be holding firm on the union’s push for 40% wage increases over a four-year contract, but WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert says some people are wondering if that plan is actually realistic.
“If you ask the car companies, they’re saying no. In fact, some of them have raised the spectre of bankruptcy if they were to give the UAW all it was asking for,” Gilbert said on WWJ Monday. “It depends on who you talk to. The carmakers say, yeah, we’re willing to give you big raises; 20% seems good.”
But the union and automakers “are far apart” in a lot of areas as they don’t seem willing to give back pensions or “bake cost of living” into the new contract, according to Gilbert. The automakers would prefer to give out bonuses instead of that, he said.