UAW strike update: Shawn Fain announces no new plants to strike but tactics will change

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International United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain didn't announce any new strikes taking place on Friday, including the largest General Motors plant in North America in Spring Hill, but said a new strategy will be implemented.

That strategy could mean an unannounced walk out in Spring Hill in the coming weeks.

A surprise call to strike in Kentucky highlighted the fourth week of the UAW strike, and during the Friday livestream update, Fain said going forward this surprise action would be the new normal.

"We are entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach. We are done waiting until Fridays to announce the expansion of our strike," he told tens of thousands of viewers across YouTube, Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fain spoke of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis becoming complacent in negotiations, waiting until the Friday livestream update to bring credible deals to the negotiation table. Ford has already stiffened its bargaining capacity after raising wages up to 23%, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Going forward, little forewarning will come before a plant goes on strike, Fain said.

"Not just Fridays, not just Ford," he said.

'Playing chess': Spring Hill awaits call to walk out

Spring Hill's UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford said the climate locally has been one of "anticipation," but no action will be taken today.

Fain's Friday announcement means Spring Hill could join the fight at any time, Rutherford said.

On Sept. 22, Fain told members of the UAW in the Spring Hill plant – GM's largest plant in North America – to wait to join the "Stand up and Strike" strike. But in his messages since, Spring Hill has not been specifically mentioned.

"It sounds like he's done playing the slow game and ready to ramp things up," Rutherford said. "It can be any day now, any plant. It's nice to see that the men and women up north are playing chess instead of checkers now.

"It will be a roller coaster every day, instead of just on Fridays now. I'm hoping we can get a little heads up so we can get the word out there if it were to happen."

UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford watching leader Shawn Fain’s announcement Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 at UAW Hall in Spring Hill.
UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford watching leader Shawn Fain’s announcement Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 at UAW Hall in Spring Hill.

Rutherford added that while Spring Hill is yet to be called on to strike, many of the local workers have pitched in to visit the picket lines in areas like Memphis, which shut down during the strike's second week.

"We've got plans in motion to bring a group to go support Kentucky this week or next weekend," Rutherford said. "The Kentucky plant is one of the largest with more than 9,200 workers, and so they can use all the help they can get."

UAW Benefits Rep. Mike Miller, who has experience in many UAW strikes during his career, called the latest one "one of the most unique of them all, but I kind of like that it's that way."

"This has been a very unique way of negotiations, and I like the way President Fain is going with it, and I believe he's going to get us a good contract. That's what we are all waiting on," Miller said. "My family is a GM family … and everything we do in the UAW is all intertwined. I thought we would go the first week."

A strike has been much-speculated in Spring Hill after a reported 25,000 autoworkers of the union's 150,000 members took up signs, officially walking out of GM, Ford and Stellantis plants across 21 states in the last month.

More than 3,000 United Auto Workers members are employed at the Spring Hill plant and are producing hundreds of vehicles per day under the expired contract.

How long has the UAW strike gone on?

It has been a a month since workers across 21 states and 42 General Motors, Ford and Stellantis facilities are on the picket lines striking for a better contract.

After the first week of the strike, 38 plants were called to join the strike in week two. Fain called for workers at a Ford assembly plant in Chicago and GM's Lansing Delta Township plant to walk out. And on Wednesday night, Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, with an estimated 9,000 more workers, joined the picket lines.

Fain asked all UAW members and supporters to find one of many UAW strike lines on Saturday to picket and offer support for their fight.

"We are here to address decades of unfair treatment of autoworkers," Fain said. "Bring them food, music and solidarity."

During Friday morning's livestream, Fain also addressed criticism for raising UAW members' expectations.

"Our broken economy is what's raising our members' expectations. Our members are right to be angry. Corporate America rebounded after the Great Recession," he said. "Meanwhile, the working class has kept going backwards."

From Spring Hill, Tennessee: UAW wants better wages, insurance as strike threat remains

When did the Ford Kentucky plant go on strike?

A source told the Detroit Free Press that close to 9,000 workers in Kentucky left their jobs at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, just minutes after union officials walked through the plant, shut off the line and told workers to walk out peacefully.

Kentucky Truck is Ford’s largest plant and one of the largest auto factories in the world, according to the company. It builds the Ford F-Series Super Duty, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Super Duty is among the most profitable products the Dearborn automaker sells.

Charged in the South: The South — and its batteries — looms over the autoworkers strike

Why is the UAW on strike?

The strike occurred after contract talks between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers fell through. UAW called the strike when the deadline to make a new deal passed at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Around 13,000 union members in Ohio, Missouri and Michigan walked off the job and picket lines soon began forming.

Now, close to 27,000 people across the country are on strike.

If contract negotiations aren't settled more plants could be called to join the "Stand up Strike".

"Instead of striking all plants at once, select locals will be called on to 'Stand up' and walk out on strike," the union said on its website.

What is the UAW asking for with union contracts?

Fain listed these "audacious" goals:

  • elimination of wage tiers

  • substantial wage increases

  • restoration of cost of living allowance increases

  • defined benefit pension for all workers

  • reestablishment of retiree medical benefits

  • the right to strike over plant closures

  • limits on the use of temporary workers

  • more paid time off

  • increased benefits to current retirees

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: UAW strike update: Shawn Fain announces tactical change in live stream