The president of the UAW union threatened on Sunday a possible "amplification" of the strike started Friday among the three main American automobile manufacturers if better proposals were not made, while the movement enters the political debate.
“If we don't get better offers (...), we will proceed to an amplification” of the strike, declared the boss of the UAW, Shawn Fain, during an interview with the CBS channel.
“We’ve been left behind for decades,” he added, explaining that the workers they represent “are fed up.”
Very offensive since the start of negotiations two months ago, Shawn Fain increased the pressure a notch as discussions between the union and the “Big 3” (General Motors, Ford, Stellantis) resumed on Saturday .
The UAW told AFP that it had met with GM officials on Sunday, without further details.
On Saturday, the union center reported “reasonably productive discussions with Ford” to reach a compromise on a new collective agreement.
Three sites have been shut down since Friday, a General Motors factory in Wentzville (Missouri), another of Stellantis in Toledo (Ohio), as well as a Ford branch in Wayne (Michigan).
They concern 12,700 of the 146,000 UAW members listed at the three manufacturers, who have never experienced a simultaneous strike.
The union has, until now, chosen to limit the scope of the work stoppages so as not to block all production.
“Stellantis and the UAW have entered a critical stage of negotiations,” the group born from the merger, in 2021, between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French Peugeot said on Saturday.
Stellantis has raised its offer and is now proposing an increase of “nearly 21%” in salaries over the duration of the new collective agreement, i.e. four years, compared to 14.5% just a week ago.
But for Shawn Fain, a 21% offer is largely insufficient when the UAW is demanding some 40% increase.
“We don’t even want to hear about it,” he said Sunday on CBS.
GM and Ford are offering to raise wages by a total of 20%.
The Republican Party has seized on this issue to weaken American President Joe Biden, whose economic record is criticized.
The head of state “led a policy that caused the worst inflation in 40 years,” former Vice President Mike Pence said on CNN on Sunday about the strike.
Economists actually attribute part of the price surge to Joe Biden, while linking it to the stimulus measures taken by Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus crisis, as well as the effects of the pandemic itself, which disrupted markets. supply chains.
“These hard-working auto workers are experiencing the same situation as other Americans, namely that wages are not keeping up with inflation,” said Mike Pence, candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. .
Former President Donald Trump, also a candidate, accuses his successor's plan to accelerate the energy transition of putting the American automobile sector in a difficult situation and playing into the hands of China.
“With the Democrats and Joe the scoundrel, you will no longer have a job and you will be broke within four years,” the former head of state warned on Sunday on his social network Truth Social.
Himself a candidate for a second term, Joe Biden sent a message of support to members of the UAW on Friday and called on manufacturers to “go further” in their proposals.
“Strong unions grow the economy,” Vice-President Kamala Harris wrote on X (formerly Twitter), who said she “respects employees’ right to strike.”
Several elected Democrats or the independent left went to picket lines or to rallies in the northern region of the United States, where many automobile factories of the three major American manufacturers are located.
After left-wing senator Bernie Sanders on Friday, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, announced that he would go to Detroit the same day on Sunday to demonstrate his “solidarity” with the union.
“We all hope that this will end quickly, but (...) an incredible economic windfall has been generated by these companies (...) and it seems right to me that these benefits be shared between everyone,” said the elected, on the ABC channel.
18/09/2023 03:17:31 - Washington (AFP) - © 2023 AFP