Biden says he will join picket line as UAW strike expands
The president said he will go to Michigan on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden said he will join the picket line, as a labor strike against the three largest motor vehicle manufacturers in the United States expanded on Friday.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain announced 38 new strike locations targeting Stellantis and General Motors., saying all parts distribution locations for Stellantis and GM at cities across 20 states will now join the strike.
Ford is coming closer to a deal with the UAW, unlike GM and Stellantis, according to Fain. "But to be clear, we are not done negotiating with Ford yet," he said Friday. No Ford plants were affected by Fain's announcement Friday.
UAW had already been striking at three plants since Sept. 15. Approximately 5,625 additional UAW members will strike at noon Friday, bringing the overall total to more than 18,000.
He had warned earlier this week that the deadline for "serious progress" to be made in the union's talks with GM, Ford and Stellantis -- often called the "big three" -- was Friday at noon.
"That will mark more than a week since our first members walked out. And that will mark more than a week of the 'big three' failing to make progress in negotiations toward reaching a deal that does right by our members," Fain said in a video message posted on social media on Monday evening. "Autoworkers have waited long enough to make things right at the 'big three.' We're not waiting around, and we're not messing around."
Biden said he would travel to Michigan on Tuesday and join the picket line "and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create."
The announcement came hours after Fain invited Biden to join the picket line.
"We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line. From our friends and families all the way up to the president of the United States, we invite you to join us in our fight," Fain said. "The way you can help is to build our movement and show the companies that the public stands with us, and stands with our elected national negotiators.
The UAW, which represents nearly 150,000 American autoworkers, launched a strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis on Sept. 15. Almost 13,000 workers walked out of three auto plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio that day. The union is utilizing a "stand-up" strike method to target specific plants and add to the list if a deal isn't reached.
The UAW held talks with Ford on Sept. 16, GM on Sept. 17 and Stellantis on Sept. 18, a union source told ABC News. The conversations with Ford were "reasonably productive," the source said.
"Ford is working diligently with the UAW to reach a deal that rewards our workforce and enables Ford to invest in a vibrant and growing future," Ford said in a statement Friday. "Although we are making progress in some areas, we still have significant gaps to close on the key economic issues. In the end, the issues are interconnected and must work within an overall agreement that supports our mutual success."
Stellantis said on Friday that it made a "very competitive offer" to the union on Thursday but "we still have not received a response." The offer included current full-time hourly employees earning between $80,000 and $96,000 annually by the end of the contract, the company said.
"[We] question whether the union's leadership has ever had an interest in reaching an agreement in a timely manner," Stellantis said in a statement. "They seem more concerned about pursuing their own political agendas than negotiating in the best interests of our employees and the sustainability of our U.S. operations given the market's fierce competition."
Sticking points in negotiations were wage increases and the length of the workweek. The union is demanding a 46% pay increase combined over the four-year duration of a new contract, as well as a 32-hour workweek at 40-hour pay. So far, all three of the Detroit-based companies have each put forward proposals that offered workers a 20% pay increase over the life of the agreement but preserved a 40-hour workweek.
After the unprecedented strike began, Ford laid off 600 workers who assemble cars at a plant in Michigan on Sept. 15. Workers in the paint department at a nearby plant are out on strike, leaving the assembly workers without adequate parts since the parts require paint before they can be put together into cars, a company spokesperson told ABC News.
Biden has deployed acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit to offer their support for the parties in reaching an agreement.
Economists previously told ABC News that a strike could result in billions of dollars in losses, disruption to the supply chain and other financial consequences.
ABC News' Fritz Farrow, Jolie Lash and Max Zahn contributed to this report.