Gary Jones, the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), signaled the powerful labor union’s willingness to strike if necessary, announcing on Monday that union leadership will raise weekly strike pay from $200 to $250 a week effective from March 2019. And beginning in January 2020, weekly strike pay will go up again, to $275.
Jones noted that no one approaches negotiations wanting a walkout. “But the UAW goes to the bargaining table prepared to strike if our members need to strike,” he said at the UAW Special Bargaining Convention held Monday through Wednesday in Detroit.
The strike pay raise should send a signal to major automakers, including General Motors, that UAW members will react if proposed factory closures move ahead. GM has looked into closing five facilities in the U.S. and Canada as the company continues to restructure, which would cut more than 6,000 jobs. The UAW has already sued GM over the closures, alleging the closures violate existing contracts, according to Associated Press. And at least one closure has already been finalized. On Wednesday, March 6, GM shuttered its Lordstown, Ohio manufacturing facility after 52 years.
If UAW workers did strike, it would have a significant impact on several major U.S. automakers. (FCAU) Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and @general (GM) GM have 154,000 employees represented by UAW, and the AP notes that existing four-year contracts with the three automakers expire on Sept. 15, 2019.