Automakers respond to leaked UAW messages about causing 'reputation damages' & chaos

Posted at 6:26 AM, Sep 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-22 08:29:08-04

The Big Three automakers are responding to leaked text messages from the UAW to The Detroit News that said the union wants to cause "operational chaos" for the companies.

The text messages that were leaked to the News were on X – formerly Twitter – and from a close aide to UAW President Shawn Fain, Jonah Furman, the union's communications director.

In those leaked messages, he reportedly wrote that the union negotiators are using bargaining sessions to cause "recurring reputations damage and operational chaos," adding, "(I)f we can keep them wounded for months they don't know what to do. The beauty is we've laid it all out in the public and they're still helpless to stop it."

According to the Detroit News, Furman would not confirm writing the messages and said they were "private messages" that "you shouldn't have."

Late Thursday night, the automakers responded to the report with several statements.

Stellantis wrote, "“These reported comments made by the UAW Communications Director are incredibly disturbing and strongly indicate that the UAW’s approach to these talks 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 intended to meet their needs."

General Motors added, "It’s now clear that the UAW leadership has always intended to cause months-long disruption, regardless of the harm it causes to its members and their communities."

Ford Chief Communications Officer Mark Truby said, “It’s disappointing, to say the least, given what is at stake for our employees, the companies and this region. For our part, we will continue to work day and night, bargaining in good faith, to reach an agreement that rewards our workforce and allows Ford to invest in a vibrant and growing future."

The messages come as Fain will give an update Friday at 10 a.m. on negotiations with the Big Three and likely call on more plants to strike as part of the union's "Stand-up Strike" strategy.

Currently, workers at three plants – a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, a Stellantis assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio, and a GM assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri – are on strike.

Fain has set a 12 p.m. deadline Friday for new deal to be done, otherwise, more plants will go on strike.