The United Auto Workers union is meeting this week in Detroit to decide precisely how it’ll negotiate with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles later this year. This Special Convention is where the UAW will determine the union’s bargaining resolutions and the bargaining committees for the three automakers. One of the first items passed was an increase to worker strike pay, according to the The Detroit Free Press. The increase of $50, from $200 to $250 per week, is effective immediately. By January 2020, weekly strike pay is expected to increase to $275 a week.
UAW President Gary Jones said the strike pay increase shows union members the UAW has their backs if a strike occurs. He added that while the UAW won’t head to the bargaining table expecting to strike, however, the union wanted to send a clear message it’s ready to fight for its members. The current contract expires on September 14.
The UAW Strike and Defense Fund is designed to sustain worker pay and healthcare benefits during a strike. As of 2018, the UAW fund exceeded $721 million, according to the report. The union has a goal to increase the fund to $850 million, which it did with an increase in dues in 2011. Once the fund reaches its goal, the dues will decrease to pre-2011 levels until the fund dips below $650 million at which point dues will increase again.
A lot can happen leading up to negotiations later this year. The UAW is taking a hard stance against General Motors’ decision to lay off workers, “unallcoate” four U.S. factories, and eliminate several low-selling models as consumers shun sedans for crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. The UAW even filed a lawsuit against the automaker, alleging the company used linguistic gymnastics to avoid violating the 2015 contract between the two.
While the UAW has yet to strike, Unifor in Canada has taken a much harsher stance against General Motors. Unifor has lashed out at General Motors over the last several months, staging a protests, running a media blitz criticizing the automaker, and even blocking access to GM’s Canadian headquarters. A lot can happen over the next six months leading up to negotiations. You can bet GM will keep a close eye on any developments.