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On the Auto Strike

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I was on NPR today talking a little bit about the auto strike. Here’s the transcript:

Labor historians see the deployment of this new strategy as a reflection of newfound militancy at the UAW under Fain’s leadership, but also some sharp and strategic thinking about how to put pressure on companies while maintaining flexibility and limiting fallout.

“It’s not the goal of the UAW to bring down Ford, GM and Chrysler,” says Erik Loomis, professor of history at the University of Rhode Island and author of A History of America in Ten Strikes. “That’s not the point. The point is to get a fair deal out of them.”

While it’s too early to say whether the strategy will work, Loomis says momentum appears to be on the side of the union, with companies having to guess which part of their supply chain might be hit next.

“It does create a scenario in which the companies can’t really prepare,” he says.

The UAW said it will provide those workers who are laid off in response to the strikes the same pay as striking workers — $500 a week. For most auto workers on the production line, that represents well under half their weekly earnings.

So as not to burn through its $825 million strike fund too quickly, Loomis says it’s entirely possible the union will eventually send some striking workers back to their jobs while bringing others out.

“Nobody really wants to be on the picket line for months on end,” he says. “Really long strikes do not generally win.”

Still for now, those on strike will remain on strike, Fain said in his video statement.

“We’re going to keep hitting the company where we need to, when we need to,” he said.

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