UAW spokesman's messages reveal effort to keep automakers 'wounded for months'

The UAW began its first-ever simultaneous strike against the Detroit 3 on Sept. 15, one minute after its previous four-year contracts with the automakers expired. The union ordered a total of about 13,000 workers at assembly plants — one at each company, spread across Michigan, Ohio and Missouri — onto picket lines. It told members at other locations around the country to keep working but be ready to walk out if called upon.

UAW President Shawn Fain has said he plans to expand the strike Friday at noon EDT time unless the negotiations show “serious progress.” He intends to announce which plants will be added two hours ahead of the deadline.

In one of the private messages, Furman explained why the union didn’t employ companywide walkouts.

“They can basically price in an all-out” strike, he wrote. “But if we can keep them wounded for months they don’t know what to do. And creating compression points of national attention for them to do the right thing is way different than just waiting for a month for the next offer. Plus we’re breaking pattern and they’re bargaining against each other for the first time in 70 years.”

Furman continued by saying the union can adjust the targeted strikes based on what the automakers do at the bargaining table. “If Ford and GM won’t move but Stellantis will, we can spare them,” he wrote. “An all-out [strike] is just attrition. This is recurring reputations damage and operational chaos.”

The UAW on Aug. 31 filed charges against GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board accusing them of bargaining in bad faith. Fain has said he couldn’t get the companies to negotiate before doing so.

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