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Local UAW explains why they have yet to strike, expert explains unique strike strategy

Wilson shows us inside the UAW Local 31 food pantry
Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 15, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The nationwide UAW strike is rounding out its first day. The local Ford plant in Claycomo and GM assembly location have not officially gone on strike, but are waiting to be called to.

Only three locations nationwide — the General Motors site in Wentzville, Missouri, a Stellantis center in Toledo, Ohio, and a Ford assembly location in Wayne, Michigan — have officially gone on strike against the "Big Three." The UAW is calling it a "Stand-Up Strike".

The UAW Local 31 with Fairfax General Motors is stocking up its food pantry in preparation for the possibility of getting called to participate.

Dontay Wilson, UAW Local 31 President

"Our job here, locally, is to be ready if our number gets called," Local 31 President Dontay Wilson said.

That time may be sooner than anticipated. In a statement released Friday, General Motors said it expects the Fairfax plant to be "idled as soon as early next week." The statement cited supply shortages at the Wentzville site.

In this time of uncertainty, Wilson holds strong.

"We want to make sure that the message is clear," Wilson said. "We just want our fair share, and, you know, a contract that accurately displays our worth and value to that company."

But what is a "Stand-Up Strike"? KSHB 41 asked Judy Ancel, a labor educator and former director of labor studies at UMKC. In her time studying strikes, she's never heard of a strategy like this.

Judy Ancel, labor educator

"The UAW always picked one target," Ancel said. "The other ones were then expected to cave into whatever the target negotiated, and that’s been the pattern since the late 1940s."

Ancel explains this was probably the UAW's best course of action.

"The UAW has a pretty big strike fund, but to take all 150,000 members out on strike at once would bankrupt the fund very quickly," Ancel said. "That would really undercut their ability to bring power to the table."

From what we've seen so far, she believes the strategy behind it is to confuse the "Big Three".

"They're not gonna know who's gonna strike next," Ancel said. "And so it's gonna discombobulate all their planning and their parts orders, and the orders with the dealers, and so on and so forth,"

Because there's no strike in history to compare it to, there's no saying how long this could go on.

Local 31 doesn't know what their next few weeks look like, let alone their next few hours. But, Wilson said there's no question they're ready and willing.

"Standing up for what you believe in and standing up for a fair and equitable contract, and standing up to get benefits, however that looks, that's not the hard part," Wilson said. "That's the part that you have to do."