© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Striking United Auto Workers members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket on a street corner in Delta Township, Michigan U.S. September 29, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
By Joseph White and David Shepardson
DETROIT (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers said on its Facebook (NASDAQ:) site that it had “breaking developments in negotiations” just before its president was scheduled for a live address in its strike against the Detroit 3 automakers.
The first coordinated strike against General Motors (NYSE:), Ford Motor (NYSE:) and Chrysler parent Stellantis (NYSE:) is entering its fourth week. The union, led by President Shawn Fain, is following a strategy of ratcheting up activity against different automakers each week, depending on progress of talks.
Fain was scheduled for a 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) address to detail bargaining updates, people familiar with the UAW’s plans said, but the event had not started as of 10 minutes after the hour.
People familiar with the bargaining among the UAW and Detroit automakers said talks have heated up this week after days of little movement.
Fain has kept automakers in suspense as to whether he would order additional plants shut down, or give an automaker a pass because they had offered concessions. So far, the union has ordered walkouts at five assembly plants and 38 parts depots operated by GM and Stellantis.
On Friday, ahead of the updates, he said the fight for better contracts was about more than autoworkers.
“This is the entire working class,” he said at an economic event in Detroit, decrying the lack of benefits for many workers. “It’s shameful where we are as a nation.”
Ford, GM and Stellantis have made new proposals in an effort to end the escalating cycle of walkouts that threaten to undercut profits and cripple smaller suppliers already strained from months of production cuts forced by semiconductor shortages.
The pressure is rising on the three automakers as EV market leader Tesla (NASDAQ:) cut U.S. prices of its Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV, ratcheting up its price war and further pressuring profits on all EV models that are forced to match CEO Elon Musk’s aggressiveness.
Deutsche Bank estimated in a research note on Friday that the hit to operating earnings at GM, Ford and Stellantis from lost production has been $408 million, $250 million and $230 million, respectively.
Ford said its latest wage offer would provide raises in excess of 20% over the life of a contract. Combined with proposed cost-of-living-adjustments, workers could see close to 30% increases in pay, people familiar with the proposal said.
Fain’s Friday video addresses have become must-see events since he launched coordinated strikes at GM, Ford and Stellantis plants shortly after midnight on Sept. 15.
Friday’s afternoon address was a departure from the previous two Fridays in which Fain addressed union members in the morning and ordered walkouts at additional Detroit Three factories to start at noon.
Fain passed over Ford on the Friday that he called for strikes against parts depots.
Last Friday, Fain called off a strike planned at a Stellantis assembly plant after the automaker delivered new proposals minutes before the scheduled start of his talk.
Friday’s monthly U.S. jobs report showed no effect from the strike, likely because it started too late in September to be captured in government surveys, but it could affect October’s report if the walkout extends to next week, when the Labor Department does its survey for the next release.
In other labor talks involving the Detroit Three, the union representing hourly workers in Canada, Unifor, faces an 1159 pm ET deadline on Monday to reach a new deal with GM. Unifor represents about 4,300 workers at GM covered by these talks.
Unifor closed a deal with Ford last month, although it barely passed with 54% of members voting in favor.