UAW Increases Strike Pay Ahead of Summer Negotiations

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones announced Monday that worker strike pay has increased from $200 to $250 a week, signaling the possibility of walkouts just a few months before U.S. worker contracts expire.

While it would appear the UAW is preparing to strike, President Gary Jones said it’s not the union’s intent.

“No one goes to the bargaining table expecting to strike. But the UAW goes to the bargaining table prepared to strike if our members need to strike,” Jones said. “Raising the strike fund is an important symbol that we have their backs.”

However, Jones chose slightly different phrasing when addressing union members at Cobo Hall on Monday.

“Activism and solidarity, that is what secures our power,” Jones told hundreds of union members in Detroit. “The stakes are high. We are ready […] We are ready to gear up and fight for what is right. We are ready to fight for our brothers and sisters and act as one.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, his words went over well with a crowd that knows it’s in for a tough round of negotiations this summer. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ford Motor Co. are all scheduled to negotiate new four-year labor deals and at least one is expected to make things very difficult.

As Ford finalizes its restructuring plan, GM is following through with its decision to idle five North American plants, including Warren Transmission and Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan. Meanwhile, Lordstown Assembly in Ohio ended production last week, resulting in a lawsuit from the UAW, which claims the move violates the current contract.

Canada’s Unifor has already come down hard on GM, airing unflattering commercials in two countries to try and get the public on its side. Back in the U.S., the UAW has been nearly as active — but not so openly vocal.

Jones said increasing the Strike and Defense fund lets negotiators and workers know they’ve got a safety net in the event of a strike, making prolonged action more realistic.

“We are solid heading into the next four years of bargaining,” Jones said. “And this extra security for UAW families carries us to the bargaining table united in our goals.”

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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