WENTZVILLE, Mo. – Ford announced layoffs of nearly 600 autoworkers at its Michigan assembly plant Friday, citing a historic UAW strike as the reason for the layoffs, according to several national reports.
Around 13,000 workers nationwide, or less than 10 percent of the UAW’s total hourly workers, have walked out. Many spent Friday on the picket lines, and it’s part of a calculated strategy to try to make the union’s strike funds last longer.
Locally and nationally, Wentzville, Missouri is the focus of a new strategy by UAW workers. Wentzville worker walkouts began close to midnight Friday in an unusual way. UAW Local 2250 is trying to send a message that what’s happening here could happen in another community next.
“This strategy will keep the companies guessing,” said Shawn Fain, UAW President. “It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining.”
Among the union’s demands, a 36% pay raise (down from the original ask of 40%), medical benefits after retirement, and a four-day work week. The CEO says it’s unrealistic and could crush not just automotive companies, but damage the nation’s economy.
“No one wins. The employee doesn’t win and the communities suffer. At General Motors, for every one job we have, it supports six other jobs in the economy,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Walkouts range from Wentzville to Toledo to Detroit, where a large crowd gathered late Friday afternoon. “Taking your demands to the table,” said one Detroit worker addressing a crowd.
This strike is rather unprecedented in modern history. It’s the first time the UAW is striking against three automaking giants – General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis – at the same time.
As for Wentzville’s workers on strike, many continue to picket Friday evening outside several entrances to the GM plant.