UAW could expand strikes at Detroit Three on Friday

The United Auto Workers union could strike additional Detroit Three automotive facilities on Friday if there is no serious progress in labor negotiations, a source familiar with the talks said.

The union did not elaborate ahead of a planned video address by UAW President Shawn Fain at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) on Friday. Bargaining continues at Ford (F.N), General Motors (GM.N), and Chrysler parent Stellantis (STLAM.MI).

If Fain triggers walkouts at more plants starting at noon (1600 GMT) on Friday, the UAW is expected to continue work stoppages currently underway until a new contract is ratified, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The union has already shut down one assembly plant at each of the Detroit Three, and 38 parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis.

About 18,300 UAW members are on strike, but that is only about 12% of the total number of union members working at the three automakers. Strikers are getting $500 a week from the UAW's strike fund.

The UAW launched its walkouts on Sept. 15, its first simultaneous strikes at General Motors, Chrysler parent Stellantis and Ford. The union on Sept. 22 expanded its strikes against GM and Stellantis, but kept its Ford walkout limited to a single plant. It is unclear whether Ford will be targeted in the next round of actions.

So far, the union and the companies remain far apart on key economic issues. Fain has stuck with a demand for 40% pay hikes over a four-year contract, a position supported by President Joe Biden during a visit to Detroit on Tuesday. The companies have countered with offers of about 20%.

The UAW also is pushing automakers to eliminate the two-tier wage system, under which new hires can earn far less than veterans.

The union has said negotiators at Ford are making the most progress toward an agreement. But Ford has said wide differences remain over key issues.

The UAW and GM plan talks on Wednesday afternoon, two sources familiar with the discussions said.

GM, Ford, and Stellantis were not immediately available for comment.

The UAW's list of potential next-strike targets includes engine and transmission facilities, as well as factories producing large pickup trucks and SUVs.

A wider strike that shuts down production of large trucks and SUVs could cost the automakers billions of dollars in revenue and profit. Analysts estimate GM, Ford and Stellantis earn as much as $15,000 per vehicle on each of their respective large pickup truck models.

The UAW, which represents 46,000 workers at GM, 57,000 at Ford, and 43,000 at Stellantis, began negotiations with the companies in July.

Along with Biden, other politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties have expressed support for the UAW's drive for higher pay.

Former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 nomination, will speak in Michigan on Wednesday evening at a non-union auto manufacturer, as he skips the second Republican U.S. presidential debate. The UAW is not involved with that visit, and Fain has been critical of Trump in recent days.

The visits by Biden and Trump highlight the importance of union support in the 2024 presidential election, even though union members represent a tiny fraction of U.S. workers.

With gridlock persisting in Washington, a government shutdown is looking more and more likely ahead of Saturday night’s deadline.

As the Senate marches ahead with a bipartisan approach aimed at keeping the government open, spending measures are still struggling to pass the Republican-controlled House. If a shutdown arrives, millions of federal employees will be furloughed and many others — including those working in the military and the Transportation Security Administration — will be forced to work without pay until it ends.

A handful of federal programs that people nationwide rely on every day could also be disrupted — from dwindling funds for food assistance to potential delays in customer service for recipients of Medicare and Social Security. The ripple effects would come down to how long a shutdown lasts and the varying contingency plans in place at impacted agencies.

“Collectively, hundreds of millions of Americans, a majority of the population, are receiving some kind of benefits from the government,” said Forrest V. Morgeson III, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business. He noted a potential shutdown could bring significant financial uncertainty and economic implications down the road.

Here’s what you need to know. Will SNAP be affected by a government shutdown? What about WIC?

A government shutdown could risk millions of Americans’ access to food and nutrition assistance programs — with impacts depending on how long the shutdown lasts and program-by-program contingency funds.

Nearly 7 million women and children who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) could be at risk of losing assistance almost immediately into a shutdown, according to the Biden Administration. That’s because the federal contingency fund supporting normal WIC operations will likely run out in a matter of days — pushing states to rely on their own money or carryover funds.

Families who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could also lose assistance if a shutdown drags out for a more significant period of time. According to the Agriculture Department, regardless of what happens in Washington this weekend, households will receive SNAP assistance as usual through October.

Impacted families are “going to be going to food pantries,” said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “These are people who need the help. These are moms. These are infants. So this is a real problem.”What about Head Start programs and free school lunches?

Head Start programs serving more than 10,000 disadvantaged children would immediately lose federal funding, although they might be able to stave off immediate closure if the shutdown doesn’t last long.

Those 10 programs, which are located in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, serve just a fraction of the 820,000 children enrolled in the program at any given time.

Tommy Sheridan, the deputy director for the National Head Start Association, said the programs are in trouble because their grants start on Oct. 1. Programs with grants that don’t start on that date will continue getting money. But if the shutdown drags on, the number of affected programs will grow as more grants come up for renewal.

Beyond Head Start, concerns have also arisen around free school meals for low-income children. But the Agriculture Department says it does not anticipate any immediate issues with federal child nutrition programs, including school meals because support for these programs is provided in part by a permanent and mandatory funding authority.

In the event of a government shutdown, state and federal operations for child nutrition are set to continue through October and potentially a few months beyond that, according to the department. However, the department would not be able to support these programs for the full year without appropriations. Will I continue to receive Social Security checks?

Regardless of what happens in Washington this weekend, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients will continue to receive payments. However, response times for people with issues could be delayed due to furloughs.

“If you have a question about Social Security, you may not be able to find anybody to answer your questions,” Nielsen said. “But the everyday transactions of sending checks out will still continue.”

According to a recent contingency plan from the Social Security Administration, the agency will cease non-critical actions and those “not directly related to the accurate and timely payment of benefits.” The issuance of new social security cards and replacements will continue. Would a shutdown impact Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare and Medicaid benefits will also continue — as both are mandatory programs funded separately from annual appropriations. That means that patients should still be able to see their doctors and have medical bills paid.

But, similar to Social Security, there could be delays and disruptions to customer service due to furloughs. According to contingency details published by the Health and Human Services Department last week, about half of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are set to be furloughed in the event of a lapse of appropriations. How could flights and other travel be impacted?

The nation’s air travel system is expected to operate relatively normally during a shutdown. Air traffic controllers and TSA screeners are deemed essential workers — however, those people won’t be paid until the shutdown ends, and TSA lines could grow longer if enough screeners stay home.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday that air travel will remain safe in a shutdown, but that the training of new air traffic controllers will stop and 1,000 trainees will be furloughed.

Long before this week’s deadline, airlines were already been complaining that a shortage of air traffic controllers has been causing flight delays and cancellations. The Federal Aviation Administration said in August it hired 1,500 new controllers in the past year and asked Congress for money to hire another 1,800 in the new fiscal year.

The processing of passports and visas will continue in a shutdown “as the situation permits,” according to guidance that the State Department gave employees last week. The department said consulates in the U.S. and abroad will say open “as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” but passport work could stop if the building where the work is done gets shuttered.

The time it takes to get a passport or visa is much longer than before the pandemic. Most Customs and Border Protection agents are also considered essential and would be expected to work at airports and border crossings. Could there be student loan disruptions?

If spending measures aren’t passed by Saturday’s deadline, the government shutdown would start the same day that student loans emerge from the pandemic pause after beginning to accrue interest again on Sept. 1.

But, shutdown or not, borrowers’ payments will still be due. For the most part, loan servicers will be able to continue to process payments regularly — but there could be delays for those who need to consult with or seek help from the Education Department due to the potential of agency furloughs.

Students applying for federal aid during a shutdown can expect similar delays because of this. Officials have pointed to potential disruptions to processing FAFSA applications, disbursing Pell Grants, and pursuing public loan forgiveness, for example. Would mail services slow down?

The United States Postal Service will not be affected by a government shutdown. The Postal Service doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars because it generally gets its funding through the sales of products and services.

The U.S. government is set to shut down next weekend unless Congress manages to strike a last-minute agreement to pass a dozen spending bills before the Sept. 30 funding deadline, an unlikely scenario that has left many Americans anxiously wondering how a potential government shutdown would impact them.

During a shutdown, the government can only spend money on essential services, such as those related to law enforcement and public safety. That means hundreds of thousands of federal workers won’t receive a timely paycheck, while others will be furloughed, which could inflict severe financial hardships on some American families at a time when many are still struggling with elevated prices due to inflation and impending student loan repayments. 

A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to approve new spending for federal agencies, which require congressional authorization each year to expend funds. As of Monday, Congress is yet to pass any of the 12 appropriations bills that need to be signed into law to keep the government running as House Republicans remain divided over top-line spending levels and various policy concessions. 

The last government shutdown occurred in December 2018, when most government activity came to a halt for 34 days, the longest in the modern era.

It isn’t just federal workers who will feel the effects of a shutdown. Here are some of the ways a federal government shutdown will impact Americans.

Federal employees and military personnel

If the government shuts down, tens of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed and sent home without pay. Those who are deemed essential workers, such as employees in public safety and national security, would report to work without pay. Once federal funding resumes, the government is required by law to repay federal employees and military personnel. Federal contractors would not be compensated for missed time.

Each federal agency decides which services and employees are essential, which typically includes law enforcement officers, national security agents, active duty military personnel, and federal prison guards. Members of the military and federal law enforcement, for example, would continue going to work, while civilian personnel working for the Defense Department would be furloughed.

Federal employees should note that those who work during a shutdown when they aren’t supposed to could face fines or a prison term under the Antideficiency Act.

National parks, public spaces, and airports

Recreational facilities funded by the federal government would be forced to close, meaning travelers and tourists may be unable to visit national park facilities or the Smithsonian museums in Washington during a shutdown. The National Park Service estimated that a 2013 government shutdown led to a $500 million loss in visitor spending nationwide. 

Some airports may also experience disruptions and delays, such as during the 2019 shutdown when air traffic controllers working without pay threatened to walk off the job—a move that helped end the shutdown. Passport offices in certain regions could also close, causing inconvenience for those planning international travel.

Federal safety-net programs

While food stamps and other nutrition aid programs would continue during a shutdown, federal agencies may have to reduce support after the Sept. 30 funding deadline if the shutdown persists for an extended period. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, for example, which provides food and vegetable benefits, is already facing a funding crisis, with the White House requesting Congress approve $1.4 billion in emergency funding for the program in late August. 

The White House estimates that roughly 10,000 children would lose access to childcare starting in October as disruptions to programs like Head Start, which offers grants to childcare organizations, could force some childcare centers to close.

Disaster relief

With disaster relief efforts in Maui and Florida underway after recent wildfires and hurricanes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned that its Disaster Relief Fund is dangerously low and could be depleted if the government shuts down without approving emergency funding. “A government shutdown will slow down our recovery efforts,” Rep. Jill Tokuda, who represents the Maui area in Congress, told TIME in August.

What remains open during a shutdown?

Agencies that have already received funding approval or operate on a permanent funding basis would continue to operate as usual. For instance, the Postal Service and entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, would continue to run during a shutdown because they are funded by permanent appropriations that do not need to be renewed every year.

Veterans Affairs benefits, including pensions and disability checks, will also continue as normal under a shutdown.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will also continue normal operations during a government shutdown—meaning the agency’s 83,000 workers would not be furloughed—due to funding approved through Congress last year. Taxpayers remain obligated to fulfill their tax obligations, and services like tax return processing carry on unaffected. 

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