UAW locals instructed not to strike

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:02 PM CDT
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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. (KCTV) - Local auto workers have been instructed not to take action as part of the UAW International Strike as an unprecedented simultaneous strike on all three of the biggest American automakers is imminent.

The deadline to reach an agreement with the United Auto Workers union was set for 10:59 p.m. CT Thursday.

“At this time Local 249 has NOT been instructed to take action in the UAW International Strike,” a Facebook post from the United Auto Workers Local 249 read Thursday evening shortly after 9 p.m.

The post said Local 249 has been asked to maintain strike readiness, but workers at the Ford factory in Claycomo and General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan., have been told to report to work as previously scheduled.

“Local 249 stands in support of our Brothers and Sisters who have been placed on the picket line,” the post continued.

“All shifts are to report at their regularly scheduled times.”

Earlier in the week UAW president Shawn Fain said they would likely begin by striking at a limited number of plants, something he called a “stand-up strike.”

Fain later announced three plants will strike if the deadline passes without a deal: a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan; and a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio. He did not rule out a more widespread strike.

That means workers at Kansas City’s Ford and GM plants will continue working without a contract, making their current wages. Workers at the other three plants will be making strike pay of $500 per week.

Earlier in the day, Local 249 unit members received a prepared picket schedule with names assigned alphabetically in 4-hour shifts, with the first 12 hours handled by members of the local’s leadership team. They had instructed workers who are on the floor when a strike is called to walk out and head home, not hang out at the plant or union hall.

Next to the main union hall building in Clay County is a trailer bearing a sign that reads,” I don’t want to strike but I will.”

Workers at the Kansas City Assembly Plant make the Ford Transit Van and the Ford F-150. They have about 7,200 employees at the 1,200-acre plant. Local 249′s website lists 7,200 employee members and 3,000 retirees.

The most recent strike locally was in 2019. That was GM only. The local GM plant, the Fairfax Assembly and Stamping plant, is in Kansas City, Kansas. Workers there make the Chevy Malibu and the Cadillac XT4. They employ 2,200 people. That’s about a third of the staff of Ford’s local plant. Their union is UAW Local 31.

Judy Ancel is a local labor educator. She is not affiliated with UAW. She’s confident they are ready to strike when asked.

“I talked to the union president of Local 31, GM, a couple of weeks ago, and he said they’re already stockpiling bottles of water to supply the picket lines,” Ancel said.