New UAW strategy could stretch strike funds
A strategy the United Auto Workers is considering to target select plants belonging to all three of the Detroit Three automakers could save the union valuable resources if it decides to strike.
The strategy, which was unveiled by UAW President Shawn Fain Wednesday, would be a new approach. Historically, the union had chosen to target one of the Detroit Three automakers to avoid draining its strike fund.
"They can very quickly at $500 a week per member with 146,000 members out on strike deplete their strike fund," said Marick Masters, business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
But he said Fain's potential approach of targeting select plants across all three automakers could force closures of non-striking plants that produce related products. Workers at these plants could then file for unemployment, according to Masters.
"If (the workers) get unemployment benefits, then the union doesn't have to pay strike benefits," he said. "If there are just a handful of strikers per se, then that saves the union a lot of money."
The strategy could lead to potential litigation as the automakers could argue the workers at the closed plants are in effect, on strike, and thus ineligible for employment, Masters added.
The UAW currently has $825 million in its strike fund. If the union was responsible for paying all 146,000 workers, Masters said the UAW could run through the fund in less than two months.
The union has said it is prepared to strike if the parties don't reach a deal by the time its existing contract expires at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
A representative from the UAW did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.