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UAW president says union will strike at three U.S. auto plants if no deal reached by midnight

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Members of the United Auto Workers union hold a rally and practice picket near a Stellantis plant in Detroit, Aug. 23, 2023.
Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union plans to strike three U.S. assembly plants of General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, UAW President Shawn Fain announced Thursday night.

The strikes are contingent upon the union and automakers not reaching deals by an 11:59 p.m. ET deadline. People involved with the discussions told CNBC the sides remain far apart Thursday night and strikes are “highly likely.” Fain on Wednesday also said strikes were “likely.”

The plants were selected by the union as part of targeted strike plans initially announced Wednesday night by Fain, who has unconventionally been negotiating with all three automakers at once and been reluctant to compromise much on the union’s demands.

The facilities are GM’s midsize truck and full-size van plant in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford’s Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Key proposals from the union have included 40% hourly pay increases, a reduced 32-hour work week, a shift back to traditional pensions, the elimination of compensation tiers and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), among other items on the table including enhanced retiree benefits and enhanced vacation and family leave benefits.

The automakers have made record proposals that address some of the UAW’s ambitious demands but not all of them. Specifically, the companies have offered wage increases of roughly 20%, COLA, altered profit-sharing bonuses; and enhanced vacation and family leave enhancements that the union has found inadequate.

Targeted strikes typically focus on key plants that can then cause other plants to cease production due to a lack of parts. They are not unprecedented, but the way UAW President Shawn Fain plans to conduct the work stoppages is not typical. They include initiating targeted strikes at select plants and then potentially increasing the number of strikes based on the status of the negotiations.

Fain referred to the union’s plans as a “stand-up strike,” a nod to historic “sit-down” strikes by the UAW in the 1930s.

This is a developing story. Please check back for additional details.

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