US auto workers' union reports progress, holds off on strike expansion

US auto workers' union reports progress, holds off on strike expansion

UAW President Shawn Fain addresses picketing members at a General Motors service parts operations plant in Belleville, Michigan on September 26, 2023
UAW President Shawn Fain addresses picketing members at a General Motors service parts operations plant in Belleville, Michigan on September 26, 2023. Photo: Jim WATSON / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Citing last-minute progress in talks, the head of the US auto workers' union said Friday the labor group would maintain the current strike but not expand it to other plants this week.

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain hailed a "breakthrough" concession from General Motors in response to another threatened expansion of the three-week partial stoppage.

Fain maintained the possibility of escalating the strike further down the road, but added no more targeted plants after announcing prior expansions the last two Fridays following the initial stoppage on September 15.

"Here's the punchline: Our strike is working," Fain said in a webcast update. "But we're not there yet."

Fain said GM has "leapfrogged" Detroit rivals Ford and Stellantis in agreeing "in writing" to include the auto giant's electric battery plants under the UAW's national agreement.

Fain said the importance of GM's shift "cannot be overstated" because of the possibility that the transition to electric vehicles (EV) will lead to the replacement of high-paid conventional auto jobs with lower-paid EV posts in what the labor leader has called a "race to the bottom."

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Wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Eat the Rich," Fain reviewed the state of play, with each of the companies often offering slightly different response to key union demands.

The pause in escalating the strike will be a relief to the three companies, although Fain held out the possibility of ramping up the action further if progress stalls.

Source: AFP

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