The UAW’s Mega-Strike Fund And Ongoing Leadership Battle

by | Jan 26, 2023 | Bargaining/Negotiations, Strikes, UAW, Union Organizing

Like the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers union has numerous strike goals in the air. The union also scored a notable victory in their quest to organize EV factories: workers at Ultium Cells LLC, a joint General Motors-LG Energy battery cell factory, overwhelmingly voted to join the UAW.

However, whether the union can keep that momentum going at factories in southern states remains an open-ended question. Those are factories that UAW desperately wants, since they want to keep building their strike fund that reportedly sits at $800 million, which they’re currently putting to use in multiple arenas:

  • A strike at a Maryland Sherwin-Williams plant passed the three-month mark while the UAW continued to demand higher pay and greater benefits than offered by the company during ongoing negotiations.
  • At an Ohio casino, a last minute deal averted a planned strike during the holiday season rush. That conflict, no doubt, gathered ammunition from the UAW’s recent increase in weekly strike pay, from $275 to $400 per week.
  • An eight-month strike came to an end at CNH Industrial, where Wisconsin and Iowa workers rejected another offer in late January. A week later, the company and the union reached a new contract, putting 1,000+ members back to work.

Against this conflict-filled backdrop, current UAW President Curry aims to stay in office:

  • Curry will soon face a runoff election against challenger Shawn Fain, who holds experience in representing Stellantis Department members of the union. Both candidates, interestingly enough, accused the other of being out of touch with the reality faced by rank-and-file union members within a tiered wage system. Fain brought up the oft-mentioned claims about Curry wheeling and dealing with automakers and against the members who he claims to represent.
  • Only 11% of those union members voted last year in the UAW’s first direct election of leaders. That’s why the runoff battle is still not sitting well with Will Lehmen, the former candidate and tiered Mack Trucks worker who accused the UAW of a sham election fueled by voter suppression. Autoworkers, including a GM Flint rank-and-file group, have voiced ongoing support for Lehman.

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