© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain greets UAW autoworkers, on the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, to mark the start of contract negotiations in Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S. July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Ph
By Bianca Flowers
(Reuters) – The United Auto Workers union is leveraging the facility of social media to draw public assist in demanding substantial wage will increase for hourly staff as a deadline looms with the Detroit Three automakers.
UAW President Shawn Fain hasn’t held again on his rhetoric to name out General Motors (NYSE:), Ford (NYSE:) and Stellantis (NYSE:) , accusing executives of “corporate greed” in a sequence of Facebook (NASDAQ:) livestreams over latest weeks and telling members to arrange to “go to war.” On Friday, he mentioned the UAW was ready to strike all three firms if no offers are reached.
While the UAW has proven glimpses previously of embracing new methods to speak, beneath Fain’s management it has overtly embraced Facebook, Instagram and X, the platform previously identified as Twitter, and adopted documentary-style, short-form movies to get its message out in a colourful and extremely memorable style.
“This is not your grandfather’s UAW,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives mentioned. “Fain is playing this like a chess player. He’s leading 21st century negotiations for unions.”
Fain, who took over in March as president of the UAW and vowed that it could be “a lot more aggressive,” has outlined an formidable set of calls for and been profitable in mobilizing members through the use of inventive short-form movies on Instagram in a transfer to talk to youthful members.
The UAW represents about 150,000 staff on the automakers.
“What we’ve seen is the new president of the UAW taking an offer from the automakers and throwing it in a wastebasket on social media. That gives it a different dimension,” mentioned Harley Shaiken, a labor professor on the University of California, Berkeley.
In a Facebook Live look on Friday, Fain spoke with a trash can labeled “Big Three Proposals” behind him.
In response to Fain’s hard-nosed feedback, the automakers have been extra public-facing with contract presents, mentioned Brian Rothenberg, a former spokesman for the union.
Auto executives have repeatedly burdened the businesses should scale back labor prices as they overhaul U.S. factories to construct electrical autos to match Tesla (NASDAQ:) and different non-union producers.
This week, the UAW launched a video in an effort to save lots of a shuttered Stellantis plant within the northern Illinois city of Belvidere.
Entitled “Justice for Belvidere,” the video chronicled the frustration and anger union members have felt for the reason that Jeep meeting plant was idled in February. It included music and sweeping pictures of the picturesque city.
Stellantis declined to touch upon the video and on Friday supplied U.S. hourly staff a 14.5% wage hike over 4 years, which the UAW rebuffed, saying it could not make up for inflation.
Some hourly staff in Belvidere have accepted relocation packages to work at amenities in neighboring states, however most hope there’s nonetheless a future for the 50-year-old plant as soon as the talks are settled.
As the clock ticks down towards the Sept. 14 contract expiration, the union’s deadline for the talks, native president Matt Frantzen mentioned he is already begun assigning strike duties.
The UAW has demanded wage hikes of 46%, an finish to the tiered wage system that pays new hires lower than veterans, reinstatement of cost-of-living changes and restoration of defined-benefit pension plans for brand new hires, which the automakers led to 2007.