United Auto Workers strike outside an entrance to the Stellantis's factory where the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator are built in Toledo, Ohio on Monday. More strikes can hit the picket lines on Friday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 22 (UPI) -- United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain announced Friday morning that its members at General Motors and Stellantis distribution centers across the country will go on strike, adding to the 13,000 already walking the picket lines at three assembly plants.
"We will be striking 38 locations across 20 states, across all nine regions of the UAW," Fain said in a stream on Facebook. "As I said for weeks, we're not going to wait around forever for a fair contract from the Big Three. The companies know how to make this right. The public is on our side. And the members of the UAW are ready to stand up."
The announcement followed through on a threat to call more auto workers on strike if "significant" progress was not made during negotiations after workers at assembly plants in Missouri, Ohio and Michigan walked off their jobs.
Fain said the union did not call for additional picketers at Ford Motors distribution centers because of the progress made there on several issues, including cost of living adjustments and hiring temporary workers.
Fain said that Stellantis and GM have continued to reject most of its proposals. He said at Ford, though, the union and the automaker eliminated an entire wage tier at one plant, re-instated the cost-of-living allowance that ended in 2009, and the right to strike over plant closures, along with extra benefits for laid-off workers and improved profit-sharing.
"All of that represents serious movement," Fain said. "To be clear, we're not done. We still have serious issues to work through but we wanted to recognize that Ford is showing it is serious about reaching a deal."
UAW members totaling roughly 13,000 workers at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, and the GM Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri are currently striking. Fain said those strikes will continue.
"They have shown us leadership, courage and creativity on the picket line," Fain said about the three striking assembly plant workers. "We salute them and all I can say is that enforcements are coming."
Fain said he remained optimistic about reaching an agreement despite escalating their strike efforts on Friday.
"Right now, I think we can get there," Fain said. "Stellantis and GM are going to need some serious pushing. Obviously, going on strike isn't something we take lightly and it's something we don't do without a clear strategy to win."
The strike started earlier this month after automakers and the union failed to reach a contract deal. The UAW "standup" strike strategy is intended to keep Ford, General Motors and Stellantis engaged with sudden, targeted strikes at important plants, rather than having all of the nearly 150,000 UAW auto workers walk off their jobs at the same time, the union said.
General Motors said Thursday it was laying off about 2,000 Kansas assembly plant workers due to a shortage of parts caused by the strike and Stellantis has laid off about 370 workers at three parts factories supplying its Toledo Jeep plant.
The union said its key demands focus on a 40% hourly pay increase, a reduced 32-hour workweek, a shift back to traditional pensions, and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments.
On Friday, President Joe Biden announced on X that he will join a Michigan picket line next Tuesday in "solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create."
He also posted, "It's time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs."