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Stateside Podcast: A new era for the UAW

uaw strike signs laying on the ground
Katie Raymond
Michigan Radio

Newly elected UAW President Shawn Fain is considered an outsider by many. So what does his election mean for a new era of United Auto Workers leadership? Detroit Free Press reporter Jamie LaReau covers General Motors and the auto industry. She joined Stateside to break down what might be in store for Detroit's Big Three with Fain at the helm of the UAW.

"[Fain] does have aggressive plans to basically reorganize, shake up the UAW leadership," said LaReau, based on a draft memo she and her colleagues obtained. "He's also made it very clear that he intends to be aggressive with the Detroit Three in terms of negotiations and what the UAW wants in terms of wages and things like that. And the word 'strike' has been alluded to many times. People I've talked to inside the UAW believe that there will be a strike and it could hit all three Detroit automakers."

Typically, in the past, UAW leaders have sought to avoid striking and tried to work cooperatively with automakers. The last major strike was in 2019, when nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers walked out of GM factories after the automaker announced it would close five North American plants. But since then, automakers and the UAW have managed to come to agreements in the negotiation room. That may soon change.

"Whether a strike would be for image to show there's a new sheriff in town or, you know, whether it truly will be to add to the salaries and... the wages, you know, that remains to be seen. And I'm sure that the automakers are paying very close attention," said LaReau.

Hear more about what Shawn Fain's election could mean for the auto industry on this episode of Stateside.

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
Ellie Katz joined the Stateside team as an intern in September 2022.