(DETROIT) — As the strike deadline set by the United Auto Workers union approaches, negotiations with the Big Three automakers are making “slow” progress, with at least one meeting planned for Wednesday, said Shawn Fain, president of the union.
“Can we get there? Yes, we can, but they need to buckle down and get busy. We’ve got 48 hours. That’s not a lot of time,” Fain said on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
Members in several states have threatened to walk off their jobs in the coming days unless auto companies meet their demands over higher wages and more robust benefits.
The deadline the union has set for negotiations with three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — is midnight eastern on Thursday. About 150,000 members work at the three companies.
Such a strike would be “devastating” for the U.S. auto industry and overall economy, Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company, told ABC News on Tuesday evening with just 48 hours to go in negotiations.
“We are putting forth an offer today that’s the most lucrative offer in 80 years working with the UAW,” he said.
Some union members have been struggling as executives “make out like bandits,” Fain said in an earlier statement. “The Big Three have been breaking the bank while we have been breaking our backs.”
Fain on Wednesday said a strike would be more likely to wreck the “billionaire economy,” rather than the overall economy.
“It’s interesting to me all of a sudden the fear mongers get out there and start talking about how this is going to wreck the economy. It’s not going to wreck the economy. It’s going to wreck the billionaire economy,” he said.
He added, “That’s the big issue here. Especially in this country. The working class is being living payheck to pay check and feeding off the scraps.”
ABC News’ Meredith Deliso, Imtiyaz Delawala, Anna Katharine Ping, Linsey Davis and Rahma Ahmed contributed to this story.
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