With a Sept. 14 contract deadline approaching, the UAW has accused two of the Detroit 3 of refusing to bargain fairly and the third of insulting workers with a lowball offer.
The hostility caught the automakers off guard during what already have been unusually contentious negotiations, heightening fears that the union will call a strike during the Detroit auto show that could cost the companies and their suppliers billions of dollars.
Ford Motor Co. — the only one of the three companies that UAW President Shawn Fain acknowledges to be bargaining in good faith — publicly detailed what it called a "generous" package that would give senior employees $98,000 in wages, overtime and bonuses over the next year alone.
Meanwhile, General Motors and Stellantis disputed the union's complaints to the National Labor Relations Board that they're engaging in unfair labor practices. The charges filed by the UAW this week are a weapon that the union and Detroit 3 have wielded against each other only a handful of times over the decades.
"Our goal is to bargain a fair contract, but if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will," Fain said on a livestream via Facebook this week. "I know our demands are ambitious, but I've told the companies repeatedly, I'm not the reason that member expectations are so high. You can't make a quarter trillion dollars in North America profits over the last decade and expect us to keep aiming low and settling lower."