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UAW prepared to do ‘whatever we have to’ to push negotiations forward, leader says

Striking autoworkers are ready to do whatever it takes to get the automakers to agree to their demands for raises, shorter work weeks and stronger job security — including starting strikes at additional plants, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Sunday.

“We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do,” Fain said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The membership is fed up, we’re fed up with falling behind. It’s been decades of falling behind.”

The UAW went on strike at three plants across the Big Three car manufacturers at midnight on Friday after its existing contracts expired without a new deal.

So far, the strike has targeted General Motors’ Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri, Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly in Ohio and Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Mich., though more locations could be added, Fain said Sunday.

The three-location work stoppage is just a fraction of the size of a possible full-scale walkout — which would involve nearly 150,000 union members across several other states.

Along with calls for a 40% pay raise and a four-day work week, autoworkers have voiced concern about a future in which more vehicles are made with electric batteries instead of internal combustion engines.

“This is where the rubber hits the road, we got to figure out how we’re going to do this transition, how we’re going to go from the transition of an internal combustion engine, and pay people who are making that battery, a decent wage, similar to what they’re making for” internal combustion engines, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who represents a district near Detroit, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“They’re going to be new jobs, and different jobs that are going to come from this transition. But it’s not a talking point moment. This is a real, intentional, hard moment,” Dingell said.

The strike puts President Joe Biden, the self-described “most pro-union president in American history,” in a precarious position as the 2024 presidential election draws closer.

On Friday, Biden said that he understood “workers’ frustration,” and announced that he was deploying acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and senior economic adviser Gene Sperling, to Detroit to “offer their full support” in contract negotiations.

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