25,000 UAW members now striking against the Detroit Three automakers; Holcomb comments

By: and - September 29, 2023 2:39 pm
strike

Employees join the picket line at General Motor’s Lansing Redistribution Center as the location was called to strike on September 22, 2023.(Anna Liz Nichols/Michigan Advance)

Two more plants, employing 7,000 workers, joined the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike at noon Friday but Hoosier workers avoided joining the picket line.

UAW President Shawn Fain announced the new additions Friday morning on Facebook Live. This brings the total number of workers who will have walked off the job to 25,000.

Fain called on Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as GM’s Lansing Delta Township facility to stand up and go out on strike at noon Friday. Fain offered those who have already been called to strike a message of encouragement.

“Keep showing the company’s that you’re ready to stand up when you’re called. When we win this fight, when we right the wrongs of the past 15 years and longer. And when we set a new course for future generations, it won’t be because of any president, not the UAW president, not the president of the United States. It will be because ordinary people did extraordinary things,” Fain said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb talks to reporters Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb weighed in without taking sides on the dispute.

“They know that I want to be a partner to them both and so I’m not gonna be the guy that from the cheap seats, hurls accusations or insults or throws an explosive phrase into that environment,” he said. “It’s already highly charged and they’ve got serious work to do. I hope they can make progress. And they should know that we’re ready to go just as soon as they are. We’ve got a lot of plans waiting to become reality.”

He said it was bittersweet that Indiana wasn’t added to the growing list of striking plants.

“I’m very grateful. It sounds selfish, that it hasn’t hit our shore yet. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected global markets that have an impact on Indiana’s prospects,” Holcomb said. “We have a lot in our pipeline, a lot of momentum in this sector, and we want to continue to be good partners. We have had great, long lasting relationships with General Motors and Stellantis and their predecessors for decades, and we want to continue to grow as the future  of mobility changes.”

The strike against Detroit Three auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis started two weeks ago after contract negotiations failed.

Fain said as he was gearing up for the planned livestream, Stellantis showed progress in negotiating with the union for a better contract, so the union did not target additional plants at the company.

At Fain’s invitation, President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited a UAW picket line in Belleville, Mich., telling workers, “Wall Street didn’t build the country; the middle class built the country. … And unions built the middle class.”

Although Biden said he marched in UAW picket lines when he was a U.S. senator, he’s taking pride in doing it as president. It is believed that this is the first time in modern history that a sitting president has visited an active strike site.

Fain did not note former President Donald Trump’s Wednesday speech at a non-union Macomb County plant. The union president declined to meet with Trump, saying he was part of the problem of the “billionaire class.”

“They [the UAW] have to endorse Trump [in 2024], because if they don’t, all they’re doing is committing suicide,” Trump said at the event at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township.

The UAW has not endorsed in the 2024 election. Michigan is again considered a pivotal swing state.

Obstacles

Even with Biden’s support for the striking workers, Fain noted UAW members are still facing obstacles, noting a hit-and-run incident Tuesday afternoon on the picket line at General Motors’ Flint Processing Center. The incident, where it’s reported a driver leaving the facility hit five members of the picket line, wasn’t the only violence Fain said has occurred.

“We’ve had guns pulled on us. Trucks and cars ran through us and violent threats hurled at us. And I want to be absolutely clear. We will not be intimidated into backing down by the companies or their scabs,” Fain said. “Our solidarity is our strength and right now, our strength is the hope of working class people everywhere. Let’s stand up and win this thing for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, for our country, and for our future.”

The UAW is using a staggered approach to its strike, called a “Stand Up Strike” plan, where instead of all the plants striking together, select plants are periodically informed to “stand up and walk out.”

Prior to Friday, a total of 41 locations were called to strike across 21 states, with 14 of the locations being in Michigan.

This is bigger than even the Detroit Three, Fain said, noting several other labor actions that have occurred since the UAW went on strike against the automakers. Notably, the Detroit Casino Council (DCC) UNITE HERE workers at Detroit’s three casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City Casino and Hollywood at Greektown — will vote Friday on whether to authorize their own strike.

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Niki Kelly
Niki Kelly

Niki has covered the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 – including five governors. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and Hoosier State Press Association for stories on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, criminal justice issues and more. She also is a regular on Indiana Week in Review, a weekly public television rundown of news. She shifts her career to helm a staff of three and ensure Hoosiers know what’s really happening on the state level.

MORE FROM AUTHOR
Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.

MORE FROM AUTHOR