Tens of thousands of United Automobile Workers union members are expected to walk out of work over the course of their strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors. Strikes have now been called at more than 40 sites around the country, and union members are using the strike to push the companies for higher wages and better job security. Find updates on the strike with our partners WXYZ or the Detroit Free Press.

UAW members earn $500 a week in taxable income from their eighth day striking until the end, much less than workers usually bring home. If the strike continues through Thanksgiving and Christmas, members will receive an additional check before each of those holidays.

In order to qualify for strike pay, UAW members must earn less than $500 in extra income a week and continue to participate in the strike by doing things like showing up for picket line assignments.

The lack of income can cause real pain for families in and around Detroit.

The union will take donations from the community and pass it along to striking workers. Every local union has unique donation needs. Looking to support? We spoke with UAW Local 900, representing the cities of Wayne and Livonia, and UAW Local 22, representing southwest Detroit. These are the supplies they need. 

How to donate food and supplies

All picket lines are active 24 hours a day. Union members can spend six hours at a time picketing, according to local union representatives, making quick meal choices helpful.

Those who’d like to donate are asked to send donations to local union halls, not picket lines — Most local halls have a team handling and distributing food, especially if near a striking plant. Other supplies are donated to strikers and their families while on limited income.

A blue, white and yellow sign that reads “UAW STAND UP: Please Donate to Table” sits on a table with a red and white tablecloth. The table holds paper towels, tissue, Ziploc bags, liquid soap and other toiletries. Gold and white balloons are attached to the table, and a similar sign is taped to the cinderblock wall.
The UAW Local 900 donation table holds paper towels, Ziploc bags and various toiletries. The local hall is responsible for providing supplies for union workers protesting in the Livonia and Wayne areas. Credit: Photo credit: SaMya Overall

UAW staff cook meals for strikers based on what’s available. UAW Local 900 community service chair Ebony Kennedy said both perishable and nonperishable food is accepted. Breakfast foods are a big need for this group, she said.

Walking into the supply room of the UAW Local 900 office across from the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, you’re met with boxes of food piled up: chips, bottled water, apples, oranges, buns — the food seems endless.

But Kennedy said most of these supplies go fast. 

“By the time 12 p.m. hits, most of these boxes go,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy said community donations are key to feeding workers throughout the strike.

She recommends fruit, pizza and pre-wrapped sandwiches, as well as small resealable bottles of water, juice or pop.

“We can always use buns, hot dogs and hamburgers because that’s the quickest thing we can get out,” Kennedy said. “I would say the smaller bottles of soda are best because (strikers) can grab them and stash them in their pockets.”

Some of the strikers at Wayne’s Ford plant are vegan; Kennedy said donating quick vegan and vegetarian friendly meals would be a huge help.

Supporters don’t have to worry about buying food out of pocket. Many food banks across Detroit, including Gleaners Community Food Bank, allow strike supporters to pick up food to deliver to picket lines. Gleaners said their community mobile distributions run five days a week, many of which don’t require an appointment. A map of distribution locations and times can be found here.

Outside of food, the UAW 900 needs coffee cups with lids so strikers can carry coffee with them while picketing. Organizers are also in need of first aid kits and toiletry items.

“Bar soap,” Kennedy said. “I keep asking for bar soap — (that’s) what I need.” 

UAW Local 22 financial secretary Gary Wilson said many strikers need childcare supplies, such as diapers and wipes. Because no automaker sites within Detroit are currently striking, UAW Local 22 is distributing all donations to neighboring local unions.

Other ways to support auto workers

Supporters of the strike can show up to picket lines along with UAW members. A map produced by Labor Notes shows Big 3 automaker plants in and around Detroit, including several sites where workers are on strike. Those are considered picket lines that union supporters are asked not to cross.

People who want to stay informed on what supplies local union offices need should reach out to representatives at the local halls, Region 1 and 1A or those currently on strike. 

SaMya (she/her) believes in empowering and encouraging minority voices through local journalism because journalism is a service to the community, not vice versa. She loves Campus Martius, especially during holiday time with the bright lights and snow.