LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Production has halted for the Big Three after union workers walked off the job, for one of the largest strikes to hit the U.S in years.

Autoworkers in Detroit are not returning to work today, after their union leaders failed to agree on a new labor contract with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

Employees, who are technically now working under an expired labor contract, will be paid through the UAW’s strike fund, which sits at $825 million.

Virginia Williams, a retiree from the Wayne assembly plant, said higher wages are a priority.  

“Houses, cars; they’re not gonna get any cheaper you know — things are only going to continue to rise. We want to be able to provide long-term for our families,” Williams said.

Three plants are officially on strike with 13,000 workers walking off the job. Those plants are at Ford’s Assembly Plant near Detroit, a GM plant in Missouri and a Stellantis plant in Toledo.

Right now, the Local 602 and 652 chapters in Lansing are waiting to hear if their plants will be next to hit the picket line.

Frederick Morgeson, a professor at MSU’s Broad College of Business, gave his thoughts on the situation.

“It’s certainly a negotiating tactic. and one that is communicating to everyone that we want more. And what’s the point where they’re willing to accept. That’s why they’re spending all this time right now, up to the last minute trying to figure out what they can get and what the automakers are willing to give,” Morgeson said.

Union leaders and automakers have been in negotiation since mid-July and are requesting a contract with better conditions.

The UAW is seeking up to a 40% raise, while the three automakers are offering about half that. Also, on the wish list is a 32 hour work week, and the return of pensions.

“They don’t want to be fair about restoring those that have gave up so much- this is what it comes down to,” Williams said.

Bianca Harris, Wayne Plant Production Operator, was at the strike as well.

“We mean business; it’s time to make a higher wage. We’ve been making that same wage for far too long,” Harris said.

Union leadership said the strikes happened overnight in Toledo Ohio, Wentzville Missouri and Wayne, Michigan.