How potential UAW strikes impact the Parma area

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 11:20 PM EDT
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PARMA, Ohio (WOIO) - Leaders of the United Auto Workers union are considering targeted strikes at a small number of factories run by each of Detroit’s three automakers if they can’t reach contract agreements by a Thursday night deadline.

For people at a General Motors Plant in Parma, the ripple effects of a strike are hitting close to home.

“We’re fighting corporate greed,” said Dan Schwartz, President of the UAW Local 1005. “The national union bargaining team has given GM our demands, and they gave us counter proposals that are pretty much an embarrassment.”

Schwartz said demands include increased pay along with better benefits and job security.

The union’s leadership discussed smaller-scale strikes at a meeting on Friday, and local union leaders were told about the strategy on Tuesday afternoon, two people with knowledge of the strategy said.

At the Tuesday meeting, national union President Shawn Fain didn’t say whether the union would target vehicle assembly plants or component factories, one of the people said.

Strikes at parts plants could force production halts at multiple assembly factories.

He also didn’t say how many workers would walk off their jobs.

Schwartz said he and chairman of the local bargaining committee, Al Tiller, are hard at work preparing union members for a potential strike.

Schwartz adds this union has had strikes in recent memory, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“There are close to 900 people and their families that are affected by this,” said Schwartz. “I care about all 900 people in that plant; they’re my brothers, they’re my sisters, and I’ll stand next to them and ease their stress and their anxiety. Have I lost sleep already? Yeah, I’ve lost a couple of days, I’ve lost some hours, there’s no doubt about it.”

Strikes at individual plants would be far less costly to the union, which would have to pay $500 per week to each of its 146,000 members if it strikes against General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford at the same time.

In that case, the union’s $825 million strike fund would run dry in just under three months, not including payments by the union for health insurance.

The strategy comes as the pace of talks with all three automakers picked up with less than two days left before contracts with the union expire at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.