TOLEDO, Ohio — President Joe Biden has urged the Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers to reach a fair deal before their current contract expires in September, aware that if a deal fails, UAW will go on a nationwide strike.
To show that the UAW isn't backing down, the union has asked all of its local chapters to vote on a strike authorization, and that includes Toledo's UAW Local 14.
A strike authorization, once approved by the majority of local chapters, simply gives the union the ability to strike in case negotiations don't go as planned, which is something Local 14 president Tony Totty said they would prefer to avoid if possible.
But if the big car manufacturers aren't willing to play ball, Totty said the union will do what it thinks must be done to get a better quality of life for its workers.
The concerns stem from the contracts themselves, Totty said. Autoworkers haven't seen a raise in their pensions since 2003, he said, and pay matching the cost of living hasn't been a part of their contacts since the last recession in 2009.
While the UAW has been pushing to get these changes made ever since, even going on strike in 2019, Totty said workers lacked sufficient strike pay and weren't in a position to weather the storm long-term.
But now, they've nearly doubled their amount of strike pay, and Totty said if the Big Three aren't willing to work with their employees after a year of record profits, the union will once again start up the picket lines.
"Our ask is just fairness in the contract, and it's been out of wack for so long, we're at where we're at, and the possibility of a strike is more likely than ever before," Totty said. "We've gone on strike before and we'll do it again if we feel the companies are not willing to give us a fair deal."
Totty said most of their strike authorizations have passed with an over-90% approval rate. The results of the Local 14 strike authorization will be in by next Tuesday, with national results in by next Thursday.
This will give UAW and the Big Three a little under a month to solve issues before the deadline in September.