LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The UAW’s top leader says he’s not backing down when it comes to workers getting the pay and benefits they deserve.
“And I want to be absolutely clear. We will not be intimated into backing down by the companies or their scabs,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video announcement Friday afternoon.
Union members could be seen and heard Friday outside the General Motors Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant, and also at the Ford Chicago assembly. The workers were called to strike at noon on Friday.
Many say they knew being called to the picket line was a possibility and that they were ready for the fight. “There’s a little sense that the corporation doesn’t respect us, and we’re ready to stand up and get that respect,” said a union striker.
Another striking union member said it’s time for the corporations to share a little of what they’ve gained. “I’m a 2008 hire. I hired in during that time of bankruptcy, so I’ve been through it and watched what everybody lost during that time,” said Ryan Eding, who’s on strike at GM Lansing Delta Township assembly. “The companies bounced back, and now it’s our turn to bounce back as well.”
GM officials have said the UAW launched more strikes “just for the headlines” and claim that the union has not responded to the company’s latest counteroffer. Meanwhile, Ford’s president and CEO has said it would be irresponsible of the union to continue escalating these strikes and potentially hurting thousands of families.
“We still have time to reach an agreement and avert a real disaster, but not much more time given the fragility of the supply base,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford.
Ford announced today that it has offered a contract it says would change the lives of its 57,000 workers. The UAW has declined offers made by the Big Three that offered around half of what the union requested in a pay raise.
“The reason we fight for what we’re fighting for is because we want to live, too,” another union striker said.
This move brings the total number of strike auto workers to 25,000, or 17% percent of the UAW’s nearly 146,000 members across the Big Three.