“We have the discipline we need to organize better than ever before,” Fain said. “We have the understanding we need to regain the trust of the membership. We have the organization that, if united in a common goal, we cannot be defeated. We have the will to sacrifice for the greater good, including on the picket line. “
Fain said the UAW planned to fight to gain what it lost during the Great Recession, when the automakers asked for concessions to remain afloat financially.
“Our members have very high expectations, and rightly so,” Fain said. “They demanded equality of sacrifice from us. Today we demand equality of gains for our membership.”
CANADIAN LEADER SPEAKS
Unifor President Lana Payne, Fain’s counterpart in Canada, also spoke on the opening day of the convention. For the first time in decades, Unifor and the UAW will be attempting to win investments from the Detroit Three at the same time with both unions’ contracts expiring later this year.
Unifor was created in 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers union merged with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The CAW originally separated from the UAW in 1985 and bargained with the Detroit Three separately ever since.
Payne, who focused her speech on the commonalities between the two unions, said the UAW and Unifor could both find success in upcoming talks.
“This timing creates a unique opportunity for autoworkers on both sides of the border,” she said. “We have a moment here to develop our unions and our bargaining strategies in ways that are both big and bold.”
She said Unifor would be bringing up wages, pensions, health and safety benefits and clarity on product plans “whether the companies want to or not.”
Fain, following Payne’s speech, reiterated her stance that the two would work together.
“These are global corporations and they are unified in defeating us and hurting us, so we have to come together,” he said. “I look forward to what the future holds with us working together.”