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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

UAW says it could expand auto strikes Friday

Members of the United Automobile Workers picket outside of the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant, in Wayne, Mich., on Friday.  (BRITTANY GREESON)
By Neal E. Boudette New York Times

The United Automobile Workers union said Wednesday that it planned to expand its strike against the big three Michigan automakers Friday if negotiators failed to make substantial progress on new contracts.

The union ordered workers to walk off the job nearly two weeks ago at three vehicle assembly plants – each owned by one of the companies, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, the parent of Chrysler and Jeep. Last Friday the union broadened the strike to include parts-distribution centers owned by GM and Stellantis, saying it had made progress in its talks with Ford.

UAW President Shawn Fain is scheduled to update members in a video livestreamed on Facebook on Friday morning. The union is seeking a substantial wage increase to make up for much smaller raises over the past decade. Each of the companies has offered to lift wages by roughly 20% over four years, about half of what the UAW is seeking. The union has demanded other measures including cost-of-living adjustments, the right to strike to protest plant closures, pensions for more workers and company-paid health care for retirees.

The three plants that have been shut down by the strike include a GM factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, and a Stellantis complex in Toledo, Ohio. They make some of the manufacturers’ most profitable models, including the GMC Canyon pickup truck, the Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler.

The second wave of the strike idled 20 Stellantis parts-distribution centers and 18 owned by GM. More than 18,000 UAW workers are now on strike. The union represents about 150,000 workers employed by GM, Ford and Stellantis.

The union and the companies started negotiating new collective bargaining agreements in July, but made little progress until this month. Their contracts expired Sept. 14 and Fain called on the first round of work stoppages the following day.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.