FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Members of United Auto Workers Local 2209, which represents employees at the GM Fort Wayne Assembly, voted overwhelmingly to authorize union leadership to call for a strike if an agreement on a new contract with the automaker isn’t reached by the September 14 deadline.

UAW Local 2209 leadership reported the vote was 97.35% in favor, while 2.65% voted no. The Fort Wayne plant employs 4,000 union workers with an overall workforce of 4,500.

The UAW’s 150,000 members have been voting on the strike authorization this week and final results of that vote are expected Friday. If a strike is called for, the UAW could target one of the Big 3 of GM, Ford and Stellantis, or all three.

UAW President Shawn Fain has argued that record profits for the Big 3 should translate into record contracts. He is holding a practice picket Friday for UAW members in Louisville outside a Ford assembly plant.

According to the UAW website, the union recently raised strike pay to $500 per week per member and has over $825 million in its strike fund. 

The last time there was a strike involving the UAW and GM was in 2019. That strike lasted 40 days and cost GM $3.6 billion.

The union is calling to eliminate tiers on wages and benefits, something that was included in the tentative agreement between UPS and the Teamsters. They are also calling for double-digit pay increases, more paid time off and higher retiree pay.

In addition, the union is demanding the reinstatement of some previous policies, including cost of living adjustments (COLA), defined benefit pensions and medical benefits for retirees.

The union is looking to secure their right to strike over plant closures. If a plant does close or the companies leave their towns, UAW is demanding that the companies pay the workers who are left behind to do community service work. 

GM touted the total compensation and benefits package they provide to their team members in a July 18 release by GM Chairwoman and CEO Mary Barra. The package includes a health care plan, a profit-sharing program and career development and training opportunities

“We have a long history of negotiating fair contracts with the UAW that reward our employees and support the long-term success of our business,” Barra said. “Our goal this time will be no different.”

Mike Perez, vice president of GM labor relations, also said they have opportunities for every worker in the transition to all-electric.