United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain (center) marches with UAW members through downtown Detroit after a rally in support of union members in their strike against the Big Three automakers, Detroit, Michigan, September 15, 2023.

Bill Pugliano | Getty Images

DETROIT – Major automakers are questioning the United Auto Workers’ motives for targeted strikes amid leaked messages from a union leader calling for “wounding them for months.”

In the private group messages on the platform

The news was viewed by CNBC and first reported by The Detroit News on Thursday, disagree with UAW President Shawn Fain’s public statements that the union negotiated in good faith and was “available 24/7 to negotiate a deal.”

“It is now clear that the UAW leadership always intended to precipitate months of unrest, regardless of the harm it caused to its members and their communities,” General Motors said in an emailed statement. “The leaked information calls into question who is actually responsible for the UAW strategy and shows a callous disregard for the seriousness of what is at stake.”

Automaker executives, including GM CEO Mary Barra and Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley, publicly expressed frustration with the union’s negotiations, or lack thereof, before a strike deadline set by the union at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14 .

Ford communications chief Mark Truby said in a statement Friday that the leaked news was “disappointing, to say the least, given what is at stake for our employees, the company and this region.”

Chrysler parent company Stellantis described the messages as “incredibly disturbing” and said they “clearly demonstrate that the UAW’s approach to these discussions is not in the best interest of the workforce.”

“We are disappointed that it appears our employees are being used as pawns in an agenda that is not aimed at meeting their needs,” Stellantis said in an emailed statement.

Furman, who was readily available during the negotiations, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Friday. Calls to his phone went straight to a full voicemail.

In response to The Detroit News, Furman did not confirm that he wrote the messages, but called them “private messages” that “you shouldn’t have had,” according to the newspaper.

Furman, a former Labor Notes staff editor and organizer, is involved in the union’s messaging, media communications, speechwriting and internal communications.

The leaked news comes as Fain on Friday announced additional plants the union plans to strike as part of its “stand-up strikes,” a reference to historic UAW “sit-down strikes” in the 1930s.

In one message, Furman describes Fain, who has touted faith and worship in recent messages to union members, as “our folksy, class-war, Generation X Christian white guy from Indiana who quotes Malcom X.”

The expanded strikes come despite record contract offers from the automakers, including roughly 20% hourly wage increases, thousands of dollars in bonuses, retention of the union’s platinum health care and other discounted benefits.

The union called for, among other things, a 40% increase in hourly wages, a reduction in weekly working hours, a return to traditional pensions, the elimination of pay scales and the reintroduction of cost of living adjustments.

Each of the automakers said they would continue to negotiate collectively with UAW negotiators to reach tentative agreements for the 146,000 autoworkers under the contracts.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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