United Auto Workers International President Shawn Fain, speaking to the UAW rank and file on Facebook live August 24, announced the results of a membership vote to authorize a strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis: 97% in favor of striking. Some locals voted 99% and a few even 100% to support a walkout if the companies don’t agree to an acceptable contract by Sept. 14, when the current contracts expire.
A vote of 90% or more in favor of striking is not unusual in the UAW during contract negotiations; it’s the rule rather than the exception. What makes this vote different is that the new, democratically elected International Executive Board has spent the past few months preparing the membership to take on the auto companies. There have been “red shirt Wednesdays,” in-plant and parking lot meetings and, most recently, “practice pickets.”
Hundreds of rank-and-file autoworkers attended an Aug. 20 Solidarity Rally at UAW Region 1 headquarters. Fain and other IEB members, along with workers on the plant floor, blasted the exorbitant corporate profits and executive salaries, putting forward demands for big pay increases, restoration of the cost-of-living allowance, elimination of pay and benefit tiers, a raise in retiree pensions, and a shorter work week with no cut in pay.
In conclusion Fain asked the question, “Are you ready to rumble?”
The crowd roared, clapped and stomped its feet in agreement.
Be ready, come Sept. 15, to join a UAW picket line near you.
Martha Grevatt is a retired Stellantis worker who served on the executive board of UAW Local 869.