LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Weeks of negotiations between the UAW and the big three automakers failed to bring the parties together on an agreement.

UAW announced Thursday night a new strategy for striking: a “stand up” strike. Leaders had workers at three plants – one in Wayne, Mich, one in Toledo, OH and a plant in Wentzville, MO — walked off the job at midnight.

Lansing area UAW locals aren’t on the picket line – yet. The call could come at any time, depending on how negotiations shape up. “The corporation has made a lot of money, you know, over the last 6, 8 – 10 years,” says Michael Spooner, an employee of GM’s Grand River Assembly Plant. “And we haven’t seen any of that.”

Spooner says he and his co-workers are struggling under the pressures of inflation just like most Americans. “As a tradesman, I had no problem with debts and bills,” he says. “Now, when I go buy groceries, just like everybody else, it’s difficult. It’s hard.” He’s an electrician at the plant.

Workers are watching as the negotiations have been strung out over the last few weeks, particularly now that the contract has ended.

“The energy is a little bit more optimistic,” he says. “People are believing that the corporation and the union can kind of work together and come to some sort of agreement, but there’s still that element of unknown. So, it’s kind of a day-to-day thing.”

The union demands a step increase in wages and restoration of benefits lost or reduced in previous contracts. “I certainly hope there is a pay increase,” he says. “We need that. I certainly hope there’s something in there for the retirees. Retirees haven’t seen anything in years.”

UAW Local 602 Vice President Isiah Fuller says the bargaining this year is new for all parties. “It’s kind of unprecedented,” he says. “We’re at a point where the company is making record profits, and, of course, we haven’t been able to keep up with inflations and everything going on in the economy>’

The inequity is what drove UAW officials to call strikes on all three manufacturers at the same time. It’s the first time in history GM, Ford and Stellantis have faced concurrent strikes. “This is not a spot that any of us want to be in, none of us want to go on strike,” Fuller tells 6 News. “Of course, going on strike is always a last resort. But if that’s the task we have to take on in order to get what we need to get from the company, in order for our own equal share of the pie, then that’s what we need to do.”

Local 602 could be called to walk off the job next. In the meantime, it’s business as usual.