The United Auto Workers union said it would announce on Friday more U.S. plants to strike if no serious progress was made in talks with the Detroit Three automakers, as a Canadian union held off on an immediate walkout at Ford‘s operations in Canada.
The UAW last week launched a strike against Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler parent Stellantis, targeting one U.S. assembly plant at each company.
“We’re not going to keep waiting around forever while they drag this out,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video message late on Monday setting the new deadline after complaining about a lack of progress in recent talks. “We’re not messing around.”
Ford‘s contract with Canadian union Unifor, which represents about 5,600 workers at three plants in Canada, expired at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday.
The union said early on Tuesday that negotiations had been extended for 24 hours after it received a “substantive offer” from Ford.
“Unifor members should continue to maintain strike readiness,” it added.
Ford said in a statement it had agreed to continue negotiations beyond the contract deadline in hopes of reaching a tentative agreement.
The company has two engine plants in Canada that build V-8 motors for F-series and Super Duty pickups assembled in the United States. It also has an assembly plant in Ontario.
Any walkout by Canadian workers that shut down those engine plants could cripple U.S. production of Ford‘s most profitable vehicles, even if the UAW decides not to order walkouts at truck plants in Kentucky; Dearborn, Mich.; and Kansas City, Mo.
“Ours is a small but highly consequential footprint for Ford operations in North America and this is our leverage, and we will use it,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a video message earlier on Monday.
Unifor has been seeking improved wages and pensions, as well as support in the transition to electric vehicles and additional investment commitments by Ford.
Once the Ford deal is completed, Unifor will turn to getting agreements with GM and Stellantis, whose deadlines were extended during the talks with Ford.
U.S. negotiations continue
Talks between the UAW and the Detroit automakers continued on Monday as the U.S. strike dragged on for a fourth day with little sign of progress toward a deal. Some 12,700 workers are striking at the three U.S. plants.
The union and companies are at loggerheads over pay and benefits for workers. The three automakers have proposed 20-percent raises over the 4-1/2-year term of their proposed deals, though that is only half of what the UAW is demanding through 2027. The UAW at one point during the talks offered to lower its demand to 36 percent.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was premature to forecast the strike’s impact on the economy, which would depend on how long the action lasted and what was affected.
The strikes have halted production at plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri that produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Chevrolet Colorado, alongside other popular models.
Ford on Friday furloughed 600 workers who are not on strike at the Michigan Bronco plant because of the impact of the work stoppage. GM said it expected to halt operations at its Kansas car plant early this week because of the strike at its nearby Missouri plant, affecting 2,000 workers.
Analysts expect plants that build more profitable pickup trucks like Ford‘s F-150, GM’s Chevy Silverado, and Stellantis’s Ram to be the next strike targets if the walkout continues.
(Reporting by Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Jamie Freed)
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