Support for a UAW-Detroit 3 deal can be won or lost on Facebook

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While the union’s lack of communication was one reason the first tentative deal with FCA failed, it wasn’t the only factor. Members then were intent on “bridging the gap” between the two different pay scales for workers, and the initial contract didn’t offer a path to top wages for new hires.

After BerlinRosen stepped in, the union began posting informational graphics outlining the next steps of the bargaining process. It also posted explainers on what retirees stood to get, how the gap between the two tiers would be reduced and how the deal would prevent work from going to Mexico.

Many UAW locals have their own Facebook pages, and the Ford, GM and FCA departments have wide latitude to develop their own voice on social media.

The UAW Ford Department Facebook page, for example, last week posted a graphic showing individual steps taken during contract talks, no doubt to help educate younger members who may not have gone through the process before.

Mike Warchuck, president of UAW Local 653 in Pontiac, Mich., said his team debated for months whether to make a Facebook page. They eventually decided to do so.

“The world’s a lot smaller now,” Warchuck said. “People use it as a source of information, and they rely on it. It’s a wonderful tool if used properly. It’s a platform that can be used to share credible information in a timely format, but I also believe people can abuse it.”

Warchuck said the UAW International and its GM Department give him wide berth to post what he wants. The local’s page in recent weeks has shared information about strike authorization vote results and a news release announcing GM as the target company in negotiations. The strike began at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday. Warchuck said the local has a plan to notify members that includes, among other communication, posting on Facebook.

“It has its benefits,” Warchuck said. “If it’s relevant, truthful and honest, I think it should be shared.”

Negotiations between the UAW and GM were scheduled to resume Monday morning. 

The union’s social media strategy may come into sharper focus once a tentative agreement is reached with GM.

This year, a union contractor tasked with handling digital communication put out a request for a social media expert to help “manage organic comments and messenger communications for a client.”

But the union has so far had an inconsistent and seemingly haphazard presence on Facebook and Twitter since negotiations kicked off.

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