United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain said the strike against the Big Three automakers is "entering a new phase" on Friday, even though Fain did not announce new strike locations this time.
It's been four weeks since workers walked off the job because an agreement was not reached with Ford, General Motors, or Stellantis.
"We’re entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach. We’re done waiting until Fridays to escalate our strike," Fain said. "Today, we’re not announcing a new expansion, but we are prepared to call on new locals to stand up and strike."
His announcement comes just days after Fain surprisingly called on 8,700 workers at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant to walk out. That plant is one of Ford's most profitable, generating $25 billion in annual revenue. They produce the Ford F-250 through F-550 Super Duty trucks, the Ford Expedition, and the Lincoln Navigator.
Fain detailed how the Kentucky plant strike came to be, saying that Ford gave them the same offer they gave two weeks ago and that union leadership went to Ford's headquarters in Dearborn to see what they had to say.
"It was not a long meeting. They tried to give us the same deal," Fain said, adding that if that's all they had, he told them, "You've just lost the Kentucky Truck Plant."
"We didn't wait until Friday, and we didn't wait a minute," Fain said.
Ford fired back Thursday during a media conference call, saying "the fragile supply chain will be nudged further toward collapse with the strike at the Kentucky Truck Plant."
The automaker said it can't go further in negotiations and that it's at its limit.
"As a company, if we go further, we risk the ability to invest in the business and profitably grow," a Ford spokesperson said. "And profitable growth is in the best interest of everyone."
Fain said that the automakers had gotten used to waiting until Fridays, when he made previous announcements, to make deals.
"They thought they figured out the rules of the game, so we change the rules. Now there's only one rule: pony up," Fain said.
"When I tell all of you members to be ready to stand up, I mean it. We’re not waiting until Fridays anymore," he added.
He also called on union members to join picket lines across the country this weekend and support striking workers. As for what the future of the strike holds as it begins its fifth week, Fain said he isn't sure.
"We’re gunning for a deal, and soon," he said. "A deal that makes up for decades of givebacks, sellouts, and insults. But the long-term goal here is much greater than that."
So far, there are 20 General Motors plants on strike, 21 Stellantis plants, and three Ford plants.
While Ford has the least amount of plants on strike, they have the most workers on strike, with around 16,600 workers. GM has 9,375 workers on strike, and Stellantis has 7,950.
This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit.
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