UAW leader rejects 4-year pact offer

The president of the United Auto Workers on Sunday rejected a public offer by Jeep parent company Stellantis to boost pay 21% over four years, pushing a historic, coordinated strike against the nation's three biggest carmakers into a third day.

Stellantis, which is based in the Netherlands and was formed in 2021 through a merger of Fiat Chrysler and France's Peugeot, said Saturday that it had offered the union a "highly competitive" 21% wage increase. The union said it had "reasonably productive" conversations with Ford on Saturday and was planning to meet with GM as well. Both of those companies have offered 20% raises over four years.

But on Sunday morning, UAW President Shawn Fain said that Stellantis's 21% offer and other terms presented by the automakers aren't sufficient and that the strike will continue.

"That's definitely a no go," Fain said on CBS's "Face the Nation." He added: "We've asked for 40% pay increases. And the reason we asked for 40% pay increases is because in the last four years alone, the CEO pay went up 40%."

About 12,700 UAW members, or 8% of the union's autoworkers, went on strike Friday, demanding pay increases and more-equal treatment and benefits for temporary workers, who have seen their pay lag behind full-time workers for years. It's the first time the UAW has gone on strike against all three of America's biggest automakers at once.

The strike comes as unemployment in the United States is at historic lows, but fallout from the pandemic and higher inflation have boosted worker anxiety. Companies have continued to post profits and increase executive pay, and the autoworkers are among a broad resurgence in union activity in the United States as workers from nurses to Hollywood script writers and actors seek better pay and job security.

Although the UAW strike affects only a handful of plants, Fain said the union was prepared to do "whatever we have to do" and expand work stoppages. "If we don't get better offers and we don't get down to taking care of the members' needs, we're going to amp this thing up even more," Fain said.

Fain's comments tempered any hope generated by the Saturday negotiations of a swift resolution. The union is asking for a 36% raise over four years, a four-day workweek, defined-benefit pensions and company-financed health care in retirement. The automakers have countered that their offers to the union are among the best in history but that they can't meet all their demands while still remaining profitable.

A spokesperson for Stellantis said the company would resume bargaining with UAW today. Spokespeople for Ford and GM did not return requests for comment.

Information for this article was contributed by Lauren Gurley of The Washington Post.