On September 15, 13,000 of the approximately 146,000 UAW members who work at the Big Three auto companies walked off the job in three assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. This partial strike, which could build to 146,000 strong in gradual waves, depending on when an agreement is reached, is part of the UAW’s new strategy—the “stand-up” strike.
The UAW describes the stand-up strike as “our generation’s answer to the movement that built our union, the Sit-Down Strikes of 1937,” harkening back to the UAW’s militant history in the 30s and 40s that set the standard for the entire U.S. working class by winning demands such as COLA.
While the UAW is not striking at all plants and parts distribution centers at once across the country, “that option is still on the table,” according to the union.
By not striking at all Big Three locations at once, the UAW ensures that as negotiations continue, they do not give up all their leverage at once. The union can keep escalating, as slowly or as quickly as it wants.
“Strikes are the most powerful tool a union has. They are also in many ways the final tool,” wrote David Kamper of the Economic Policy Institute on Twitter. “So, what [the stand-up strike] is doing is taking the process of going on strike, and instead of making it a single moment of total conflict, stretching it out.”