DETROIT — Workers from each of the Detroit Three automakers remained on the picket lines Friday, sharing stories of what the strike means to them, fielding visits from politicians, and soliciting honks from passing traffic.
They're in the first day of what may be a long walkout. the United Auto Workers' contract expired at midnight, and workers at selected plants were called to be the first to strike. Others may be added if negotiations stretch on.
The strike currently involves about 12,700 workers total, split between Ford Motor Co.'s Bronco plant in Wayne, Stellantis NV's Jeep Wrangler plant in Toledo and General Motors' Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri. There is no bargaining scheduled for Friday and negotiations are set to resume Saturday. The union and the automakers still remain far apart on key issues such as wages, cost-of-living adjustments, the tier system and more.
Stacey LaRouche, press secretary for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said the governor's office is staying "in close communications as negotiations for fair contracts continue."
"The strength and vitality of Michigan’s economy depends in equal parts on our skilled and dedicated labor force, as well as the Big Three Automakers whose industry has long defined our state economy," LaRouche said. "We’re hopeful all parties can come together during these negotiations to continue building on the momentum Michigan has seen these past four years and position us for even greater prosperity in the years ahead."
GM CEO Mary Barra spoke on several morning shows Friday morning about the walkout and how it would affect operations. She told CNBC that even a single plant going down could have a ripple effect.
"Our GM team members who are representing have told me time and time again that job security is very important to them," Barra said. "How you get job security is making sure you have beautifully designed cars, trucks and crossovers that people want to buy. We have those right now for all. All of our vehicles are in strong demand, both our (internal combustion engine) portfolio and our EV portfolios, so we got to get back to work so we don't lose ground."
But she also said that she believed the strike could be resolved "very quickly," noting the "historic offer on the table" that includes 20% in wage increases over 4 1/2 years. Speaking to Fox Business, Barra said that "if our people really understand the details of it, they're going to support it."
Asking for more
Striking workers at the plants in Wayne and Toledo disagreed with Barra, saying they need more than the current offers from the automakers.
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