Oct. 25, 2023
Sarah Michals and Kent Saunders
Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah is taking aim at UAW President Shawn Fain as the union’s strike against the Big Three automakers nears six weeks.
“This has gotten really really reckless. Somebody asked me if we were cutting to the bone, I said, ‘No, we’re actually severing limbs at this point,’” Baruah said in an interview with 7 Action News.
Baruah is fed up with UAW president Shawn Fain, issuing the following statement:
“UAW leadership has made it clear – in their own words – that their priority is not to come to a collaborative resolution, but rather to inflict ‘recurring reputations damage and operational chaos.’ They are certainly succeeding in that goal. Beyond damaging the very companies their membership relies upon for jobs today and tomorrow, this strike is damaging Michigan’s economy – from dealers, auto repair shops, restaurants, and a slew of other businesses. When Fain says, ‘I want to be crystal clear … the days of the UAW and Ford being a team to fight other [foreign] companies are over,’ believe him. This is about fighting, not finances.”
Baruah expanded on the viewpoint in our interview, saying, “the financial issues are now addressed and then some, so the question we ask is, why is this strike still going on?”
According to Baruah, the answer to that is that Fain is trying to impact the long-term financial stability for the Big Three and in turn, is damaging Michigan’s economy.
According to the Anderson Economic Group, the UAW strike has surpassed $9.3 billion in economic losses for the auto industry.
“The concern about what this means for our economic growth, our job creation, is really really high,” said Baruah. “The other thing is that the UAW workers are only a fraction of the people who are being impacted by this strike.”
In Downtown Ferndale, David Peskey, the service manager of Wetmore’s Tire and Auto Repair, said, “We’ve seen lighter foot traffic coming in this week, maybe because of the fear with the strike.”
Peskey told us the length of the strike impacts their shop as they rely on purchasing parts like oil coolers from dealers who get their parts largely from Big Three distribution centers.
“And then if the dealer doesn’t have it, it’s gonna affect us,” said Peskey.
With the most recent contract offers from the Big Three, many UAW workers will earn in total more than $100,000 a year.
General Motors has said their workers will now be in the top 25% of full-time American workers.
To that Baruah said, “I’ll give them credit, they have achieved significant economic gains for their members… but they need to start thinking about the rest of the economy, the rest of the people who are being negatively impacted.”