The UAW votes overwhelmingly to allow a strike at the three Detroit automakers

UAW President Shaun Fine presides over the collective bargaining agreement for the 2023 special election

UAW President Sean Fine chairs the Collective Bargaining Conference for the 2023 Special Election in Detroit, Michigan, US, March 27, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo Obtain licensing rights

Aug 25 (Reuters) – Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union said Friday that members voted overwhelmingly to allow strike action at the three Detroit automakers if no deal is reached before the current four-year contract expires on Sept. 14.

UAW President Sean Fine, who leads the union that represents about 150,000 workers, said the mandate was approved by 97% of voting members at General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor (FN) and Stelantis (STLAM.MI).

Finn reiterated that the union does not plan to extend the deadline for obtaining a new contract. “The deadline is September 14th. We have a lot of options that we are looking at but extending the contract is not one of them.”

Fine said workers have made many concessions over the past two decades including forgoing wage increases, defined pensions and post-retirement healthcare benefits.

“We’re fed up,” Fine said Friday, enumerating a series of demands. “We’ve sat around for decades while these companies keep giving and taking from us.”

Fine has outlined an ambitious set of demands, including ending a tiered wage system that pays new hires less than veterans, reinstating cost-of-living adjustments and restoring defined-benefit retirement plans that automakers ended years ago for new hires.

Fine said he expects the Detroit three to come to the negotiating table next week with counterproposals to the UAW’s demands. He said the talks were “still moving slowly” after they opened in July. Analysts estimate the probability of a strike at more than 50%.

A vote does not guarantee a strike is called, only that the union has the right to call a strike if there is no agreement by September 14th.

General Motors, Ford and Stelantis have said they want to reach an agreement that is fair to workers but also gives companies flexibility, as the industry shifts to electric models that contain fewer parts and require less labor.

Ford shares rose 1%, while General Motors shares were unchanged in afternoon trading.

(Reporting by Shivaansh Tiwari in Bengaluru, Joe White in Detroit and David Shepherdson in Washington) Additional reporting by Nathan Gomez Editing by Arun Coyoor and Emilia Sithole-Mataris

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Joe White is Reuters’ global automotive correspondent, based in Detroit. Joe covers a wide range of auto and transportation topics and also writes for The Auto File, a thrice weekly newsletter on the global auto industry. Joe joined Reuters in January 2015 as a transport editor leading coverage of planes, trains and automobiles, and later became global automotive editor. Previously, he was the global automotive editor for The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw coverage of the auto industry and ran the Detroit bureau. Joe is the co-author (with Paul Ingrascia) of The Comeback: The Fall and Rise of the American Auto Industry, and he and Paul shared the Pulitzer Prize for Outstanding Reporting in 1993.

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