UAW strike expands to Mercedes supplier in Alabama

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A drivetrain plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., went on strike Wednesday, joining several United Auto Workers (UAW) in the Midwest striking against major automakers.

ZF Chassis Systems, which supplies a nearby Mercedes factory, is the fourth UAW plant to join the effort since the union began striking Friday. Other plants involved are near St. Louis; Detroit; and Toledo, Ohio.

The historic UAW strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis is focused on demands for higher wages, shorter work weeks, union representation for battery plant workers and better retirement benefits — including restored pensions for new hires.

UAW President Shawn Fain threatened that strikes will continue and expand if automakers don’t up their contract offers and come to the negotiating table by Friday.

“Our members have been clear about their demands, and we know the companies can afford to make things right. Record profits mean records contracts,” Fain said Tuesday. “We’ve been available 24/7 to bargain a deal that recognizes our members’ sacrifices and contributions to these record profits.”

“If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, Sept. 22, more locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike,” he continued.

The union strike strategy has called on only a few local facilities to strike at a time, with little to no notice. The strategy reserves strike funds and, as Fain said, is intended to “keep the companies guessing.”

The strikes are backed by the Biden administration, though controversy has erupted over whether President Biden — who branded himself as pro-union during his campaign — should show up and speak with striking workers. He made statements in support of the strikes last week.

“I believe they should go further. … Record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW,” Biden said.

Former President Trump announced Tuesday that he will visit striking workers in Detroit later this month instead of attending the second GOP presidential primary debate.

While the UAW has so far refused to endorse Biden over concerns about electric vehicle policy, Fain has been sharply critical of Trump; he said the UAW will not endorse Trump and is still open to endorsing Biden.

“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said.

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