WAYNE, Mich. (FOX 2) - United Auto Workers employees at three plants, including one in Michigan, walked off the job and to the picket line early Friday after the union and Big Three failed to reach a deal.
Michigan lawmakers after joined the protesters while President Joe Biden called for good wages for the UAW Friday on Day 1 of an historic strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.
The UAW is participating in a "Stand Up Strike," meaning that only a few Locals will strike at first, and more may join depending on how negotiations are going. The first facilities called to strike after the contract expired Thursday include the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, and the GM Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri.
These plants employ nearly 13,000 people.
This strike is the first time the UAW is striking against the Big Three automakers at the same time. It comes after the UAW has rejected several proposals from Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors.
"We've been working hard trying to reach a deal for economic and social justice for our members. We have been firm. We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies," UAW President Shawn Fain said during an update a couple of hours before the strike was set to begin.
The union initially was asking for a 46% pay raise, a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, the tier system removed, and restoration of traditional pensions for new hires, among other demands. However, the union said it is now willing to accept a pay raise percentage in the mid-30s.
"They're acting like they're gonna go bankrupt if they give a dollar extra, so I feel like we're gonna have a little bit of a struggle, but I do have hope that we'll get a deal done," said UAW member Michael Orr Jr.
Big Three automakers responded to the strike, saying they were disappointed offers were rejected. There will be no negotiating Friday, but the union and automakers will head to the bargaining table again Saturday.
Fain said the union plans to strike "until we get our share of economic justice."
The strike plan includes calling on more workers to strike to put pressure on automakers if a deal isn't reached.