CHICAGO — Nearly 200 workers between the Stellantis facility in Naperville and General Motor’s facility in Bolingbrook walked off the job Friday morning — union workers saying they are fighting for the “American Dream.”
The president of the United Auto Workers said Friday the union will expand its strike against major automakers by walking out of 38 General Motors and Stellantis plants in 20 states, including here in Illinois.
UAW local president Josie Hernandez said some employees are being forced to chose between paying rent or putting food on the table.
Ford was spared additional strikes because the company has met some of the union’s demands during negotiations over the past week, said UAW President Shawn Fain.
The union is pointing to the companies’ huge recent profits as it seeks wage increases of 36% over four years. The companies have offered a little over half that amount.
The UAW has other demands, including a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay and a restoration of traditional pension plans for newer workers.
The union’s contract with the three major carmakers expired at midnight Sept. 14 and Hernandez said she stood out with workers in support.
The companies say they can’t afford to meet the union’s demands because they need to invest profits in a costly transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.
The UAW said the new walkouts will affect 5,600 workers on top of the nearly 13,000 who began strikes last week at three Ford, GM and Stellantis assembly plants. Those original strikes will continue, the union said.
Even with Friday’s expansion, the strikes involve only a little over 10% of the UAW’s 146,000 members. That will make the union’s $825 million strike fund last longer, as most members will keep working under the expired contract and pay into the fund. However, the longer the strike lasts, the greater the risk of dissension between workers who will keep collecting full paychecks and those getting $500 a week from the union.
The Illinois chapter of the SFL-CIO expressed their support for the UAW workers, writing on social media that the negotiations impact every Illinoisan and worker in America.
President Joe Biden is slated to travel Michigan Tuesday to show his support for workers in the strike against the Detroit Three.