The United Auto Workers have overwhelmingly authorized a strike if they don’t reach a deal with the Big Three automakers by the time their contracts expire in mid-September, the union announced Friday. Final votes are still being counted, but the current combined average of votes to strike across the three companies is 97%, the UAW said.
“Our union’s membership is clearly fed up with living paycheck to paycheck while the corporate elite and billionaire class continue to make out like bandits,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement. But despite the vote setting the stage for a strike, he addressed auto workers on a Facebook Live on Friday and stressed that union leaders are fighting for them to avoid having to walk off the job. “I want to be clear: Our goal is not to strike,” he said. “Our goal is to bargain for good contracts.” The union, which represents about 150,000 workers, is asking Ford Motor
to raise wages 46% over the life of the contract; restore pensions and cost-of-living adjustments; increase benefits for retirees; get rid of tiers; reduce the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours; and more. Saying negotiations with the companies have been slow, the union’s consistent message has been that the Big Three are generating big profit — a combined $21 billion in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, the UAW said auto workers have been left behind as they have worked under contracts filled with concessions that the companies no longer need. “Inflation has been hammering us,” Fain told UAW members Friday. “This is our time to take back what we’re owed.” The automakers, which have seen pressure on their stocks ahead of a possible strike, have said they are committed to coming to an agreement. “Ford is proud to build more vehicles in America and employ more UAW-represented hourly workers in America than any other automaker,” a company spokesperson said Friday. “We look forward to working with the UAW on creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changi …