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UAW holds off further strikes, keeping Kentucky plants running

UAW workers and supporters attend a Louisville rally held outside Local 862's headquarters on September 21, 2023.
Jacob Munoz
LPM News
UAW workers and supporters attend a Louisville rally held outside Local 862's headquarters on September 21, 2023.

The United Auto Workers has around 18,000 Ford, Stellantis and General Motors employees on picket lines. It has announced new strike targets each week for almost a month, but said Friday that active workers will stay on the job for now.

More than 12,000 Ford workers in Louisville are represented by UAW Local 862. They work at either the company’s Louisville Assembly Plant or its Kentucky Truck Plant.

Union members at General Motors’ Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant will also remain on the job.

Ford, Stellantis and General Motors didn’t reach new four-year deals with the UAW by Sept. 14, when their current contracts expired. The union then struck against all three automakers for the first time in its history, starting with one facility at each company.

UAW President Shawn Fain said during Friday’s online union announcement that while the union had not reached new tentative contract agreements, he was pleased by ongoing negotiations.

“We are winning. We are making progress. And we are headed in the right direction,” Fain said.

Fain also did not announce new strike targets against the automakers for the first week since contracts expired.

The union has used a “stand-up strike” approach of steadily bringing workers to picket lines, in order to pressure companies to meet their demands.

The UAW spared Ford during one of its strike announcements last month, saying it had made satisfactory bargaining progress in the days before over issues like job security and cost-of-living adjustments. But a week later, it targeted the company’s Chicago Assembly Plant.

Ford blamed that strike for its decision to lay off workers at two other company plants.

During Friday’s announcement, Fain said the UAW had planned to strike a General Motors plant in Texas but held off because the company agreed to incorporate its electric battery plants into union contracts, a first among the three automakers.The UAW has sought to represent workers at those plants, and Fain stressed the importance of a “just transition” toward electric vehicles.

“We've been told for months that this is impossible,” Fain said. “We've been told the EV future must be a race to the bottom. And now we've called their bluff.”

Ford is building two electric battery plants near Elizabethtown in a joint venture with a South Korean company SK On.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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