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UAW strike keeping Big 3 automakers 'on their toes': Journalist

Auto workers threaten to expand their strike to target key plants for major automakers if no major progress is made in contract negotiations. The Intercept's Investigative Reporter Daniel Boguslaw calls the United Auto Workers' (UAW) tactics against Big Three automakers Ford (F), General Motors (GM), and Stellantis (STLA) an "unprecedented labor action" in his recent report.

Boguslaw sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the UAW's goal in "spreading chaos [and] spreading confusion" as to which auto plants they choose to picket at, calling this "a new era for organized labor" as striking workers demand revised benefits and cost-of-living adjusted wages.

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Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

RACHELLE AKUFFO: The UAW is threatening to expand its targeted strike if no major progress is made in negotiations by the big three automakers. So far, just three plants in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio have seen workers walk out. Though not widespread, striking members have effectively hampered the industry's largest supply chain. In the weeks leading up to the strike, automakers tried to guess which sites the workers would target and reorganize production accordingly.

In his latest report for The Intercept, investigative reporter Daniel Boguslaw found that the big three guessed wrong. Daniel joins us now with more. Good to see you here, Daniel. So this does seem to be symptomatic of really the big three not really understanding what the workers are really up to at the moment. Break down this article for us and really the position that the automakers have put themselves in.

DANIEL BOGUSLAW: Sure. Thanks for having me. Well, really what we're seeing is a unprecedented in recent years tactic coming from the UAW. Instead of a mass walk off at every plant, a big week-long show of force, which would cost the union strike fund, you know, 100 of thousands of dollars.

They've instead opted for a much more targeted approach-- spreading chaos, spreading confusion, keeping the big three on their toes by not announcing which plants were going to be targeted ahead of time. And ultimately forcing the companies to move engine blocks across the country in anticipation, shut down paint divisions within their different factories, all trying to guess what this union is up to and effectively, as one member told me, striking themselves in the process.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And so with that in mind then, I mean, how long can this really continue before it does specifically start to hurt those who are protesting? I mean, they have a set amount of money in the strike fund. If they do expand to more plants, how quickly does that then get blown through?

DANIEL BOGUSLAW: Sure. Well, Shawn Fain, the new militant president of the UAW, has said they're willing to go as long as they need to win their demands. That includes eliminating the tiered structure which separates workers wages and benefits by their seniority. It means a 40% pay increase.

And it means a restoration of the benefits that workers have lost. I think that, you know, this is a new era for organized labor. This is not the same old Hoffa dynasty that has ruled for decades.

And as Fain has come out swinging all week and made clear, they're willing to go as long as they need to with a new tactic, which is going to allow them to continue targeted strikes much longer than unions have in the past in recent decades due to these mass walk offs, which have been extremely expensive. With this new tactic, they have a lot more time to draw out pain from the big three.