The United Auto Workers and the Big Three Detroit carmakers are still “far apart” on a new labor contract, with the union considering striking individual plants belonging to the companies if a deal can’t be reached before the deadline, according to people familiar with the discussions.
(Bloomberg) — The United Auto Workers and the Big Three Detroit carmakers are still “far apart” on a new labor contract, with the union considering striking individual plants belonging to the companies if a deal can’t be reached before the deadline, according to people familiar with the discussions.
UAW President Shawn Fain plans to cement the union’s strike plans at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 14, two hours before the contract officially expires, two people said, asking not to be identified because discussions are private.
Negotiators are working around the clock to reach an accord with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, but the car companies aren’t giving into UAW demands.
Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley said the company had made the best offer in its history to the UAW earlier Tuesday. Ford won’t budge on demands like a four-day work week, he said.
“We’re absolutely ready for a strike and I know the UAW is too,” Farley told reporters in Detroit on Tuesday evening. “But we don’t want it to come to a strike.”
The UAW and carmakers are haggling over big pay rises, cost-of-living allowances and other benefits the union has demanded, three people said. While Fain has allowed for some small compromises, such as lowering the pay increase demand to 36% from 40%, the union is holding its ground, the people said.
Read More: Auto Workers’ Thirst for COLA Aims to Eliminate Inflation Woes
The companies and the workers are under intense pressure to reach a deal and avoid a long, costly strike, which would have wide-ranging impacts on the US economy. A smaller strike that only affects a few plants would be easier for the union to financially swallow.
In several, fiery online addresses Fain has exhorted the union’s 150,000 members to prepare for walkouts. He plans to speak to members in another online address Wednesday.
The former Chrysler electrician said the UAW will negotiate 24/7 with companies until they reach a deal.
“We’re still optimistic we’ll get a deal, but there is a limit,” Ford’s Farley told reporters. “There is a line in the sand for the sustainability of the company.”
(Updates with comments from Ford CEO in fourth and fifth paragraphs.)
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