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Auto workers left wondering what plants UAW leadership could target next

Posted at 6:42 PM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 18:42:37-04

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — It is anyone’s guess what plants UAW leadership could target next, and auto workers are living in that shadow. I talked with some of them today about what could come next.

“We have to do whatever it takes,” said Frankie Westberry, Warren Truck Assembly worker.

For 24-year veteran Frankie Westberry, that could mean walking off the job tomorrow if the Big 3 and UAW don't get closer to a deal.

“If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22nd. More locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike,” said Shawn Fain, UAW President.

Auto industry experts like John McElroy say everyone including workers and the manufacturers are in the dark about which plants will be targeted if the strike expands.

Only UAW President Shawn Fain knows the strategy. The expectation is it will happen.

“The fastest way to impact many plants is to take down component plants.. an engine plant, a transmission plant, a stamping plant because they all feed multiple plants. You take them down, you take a whole bunch down with them,” said John McElroy, Autoline. “Full-size pickups and full-sized SUVs. That’s where the Detroit 3 make most of their profits so, you want to inflict pain. That’s the place to do it.”

“I would think that if he’s going to hit another plant in Michigan, it would not be a Ford plant. I would be GM or Stellantis because they’ve already got Ford’s Wayne plant down,” McElroy added.

That could mean the Stellantis plant making the Ram 1500 is in the crosshairs and its Warren Truck Assembly workers like Frankie are hoping a deal will allow workers like her to retire while setting up the next generation for prosperity.

“I’m almost 70 years old and I’m still on the assembly line,” said Westberry. “If we would’ve had the cost of living when they promised it. We would’ve been making $41 an hour right now.”

WXYZ’s Brian Abel asked, “Is there any anxiety or any emotion about the possibility that you could be having to live off that $
500-a-week strike pay come here in the next 48 hours.

“No not at all because we’ll stick together, and we have food banks set up and stuff,” said Westberry. “You know they don’t wanna give us back what they took. So, what do we have to do? I can’t retire and let the young kids come in because they won’t give me enough money after 30 years?” “We’ve got families too. You don’t deserve $29 million a year to sit on your @$$ being CEO. That’s basically the way I see it.”

Frankie also says this fight is to set up workers for any future job loss during the transition to electric vehicles. She adds that she approves of Fain's strategy... saying there’s far more transparency in the process than previous contract negotiations.