“This is our time to take back what we are owed,” he said on Facebook Live on Friday. “We are united, and we are not afraid,” he added.
Mr. Fain, who was narrowly elected president this year in the union’s first direct election of its top leaders, appears to have united the union’s members. He appeared at rallies with workers in Detroit on Wednesday and in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday and Friday. About a dozen similar events are planned over the next two weeks. Such events were rare in contract talks over the last 20 years.
“There’s nervousness, but there’s excitement,” Luigi Gjokaj, a vice president at U.A.W. Local 51, said at the Detroit rally. “If the company comes to the table and they’re fair, we’ll have an agreement. If it has to go to a strike, we are prepared.”
Mr. Fain spoke to about 100 workers at that rally from the bed of a pickup truck just outside a Stellantis plant that makes the Jeep Wagoneer, a highly profitable sport utility vehicle.
“We’re not asking to be millionaires,” he said to loud cheers. “We just want our fair share.”
In a statement after the result of the strike vote was announced, Ford said it hoped to work with the U.A.W. toward “creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changing industry needs a skilled and competitive work force more than ever.”