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The Big 3 automakers now have record offers on the table. UAW says they can do more

United Auto Workers members embrace outside the Jeep Plant on September 18, 2023 in Toledo, Ohio. The Big Three automakers have ramped up their offers for a new contract, but UAW President Shawn Fain  says the union needs to hold out for more.
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United Auto Workers members embrace outside the Jeep Plant on September 18, 2023 in Toledo, Ohio. The Big Three automakers have ramped up their offers for a new contract, but UAW President Shawn Fain says the union needs to hold out for more.

In the five weeks since autoworkers first walked out at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the offers on the table have gotten dramatically richer.

Proposed wage increases over the 4.5-year contract began at 9% but they are now at 23% at all Big Three automakers, UAW president Shawn Fain said on Friday in his latest Facebook Live address.

In addition, Ford and GM now have improved cost of living adjustment offers, while all three automakers have offered to cut the number of years it takes to reach the top wage and to increase 401(k) retirement contributions.

But Fain said, there's still room to move.

"One thing we've been hearing over and over from these companies is how they've offered us record contracts," he said. "You know what? We agree. These are already record contracts, but they come at the end of decades of record decline. So it's not enough."

Still, Fain did not announce another expansion of the strike after last calling for 8,700 workers at a key Ford Kentucky plant to walk out.

Instead, he acknowledged the UAW auto workers who have been called on to strike under the union's plan to ramp up pressure on automakers by calling for walkouts at only some of the plants.

United Auto Workers members picket outside of the Stellantis Mopar parts facility on September 22, 2023 in Naperville, Illinois.
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United Auto Workers members picket outside of the Stellantis Mopar parts facility on September 22, 2023 in Naperville, Illinois.

On social media, some members have begun to express impatience with the strike, sharing the stress that being out of work and living on the $500 a week strike pay has brought to their families.

In a message that appeared aimed at them, Fain warned against allowing the companies to fragment the members.

"Our ability to hold out, to hit the companies economically and to withhold our labor — this is our leverage and this is our path to victory," he said. "We have one tool and that's solidarity."

Offers from the automakers have gotten sweeter

Earlier in the day, GM provided details of its latest offer which also includes improvements for temporary employees, with the automaker saying they are willing to provide immediate conversion to permanent status for those with one year on the job.

In a statement, GM called the offer the most significant that it has ever proposed to the UAW, noting that the majority of the workforce would earn $84,000 a year by the end of the agreement.

"It is time for us to finish this process, get our team members back to work and get on with the business of making GM the company that will win and provide great jobs in the U.S. for our people for decades to come," the statement read.

Ford, which did not present the UAW with a new offer this week, had indicated last week that it had reached its limit on cost.

Earlier in the week, Ford executive chair Bill Ford warned that decisions made now will impact not just Ford and its ability to compete, but the future of the American automobile industry.

"Toyota, Honda, Tesla and others are loving this strike because they know the longer it goes on, the better it is for them," he said. "They will win and all of us will lose."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Andrea Hsu
Andrea Hsu is NPR's labor and workplace correspondent.
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