UAW Strikes at Big 3 Detroit Automakers

Photo of the strike | Image by UAW

Thousands of U.S. auto workers went on strike Friday after labor negotiations with three Detroit automakers failed to culminate in a deal by the September 15 deadline.   

The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents about 146,000 auto workers in the U.S., began its Stand Up Strike on Friday, leading about 13,000 union members to simultaneously strike against General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis –- the parent company of Jeep and Chrysler.

“This fight is our generation’s defining moment. Not just at the Big Three, but across the entire working class,” UAW said in the news announcement.

Unlike past strikes, UAW members are picketing simultaneously at each company’s manufacturing plants. The three facilities include the GM Wentzville Assembly, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, and the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant.

“These were chosen carefully by the UAW and reflect a strategy that will ensure a large number of suppliers and dealers are affected, while reducing the number of UAW workers that, at least initially, are on strike and receiving strike pay,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, CNN Business reported.

UAW members have asked for a labor contract that includes a 40% (46% compounded) wage increase over four years, a reduced work schedule from 40 to 32 hours per week, and the restoration of certain benefits, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

In response to the strike, the big three automakers called the decision by UAW members disappointing and reiterated that they are still committed to reaching a fair deal.

“We are disappointed by the UAW leadership’s actions, despite the unprecedented economic package GM put on the table, including historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments,” said General Motors in a statement addressing the strike. “We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

“We are extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership’s refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement,” Stellantis said in a statement. “We immediately put the Company in contingency mode and will take all the appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the Company.”

As for Ford Motor Co., the automaker says it submitted four proposals to the UAW ahead of the strike, with the last offer being “historically generous.”

“The union made clear that unless we agreed to its unsustainable terms, it plans a work stoppage. … Ford has bargained in good faith in an effort to avoid a strike, which could have wide-ranging consequences for our business and the economy.

“Ford remains absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards our employees and protects Ford’s ability to invest in the future as we move through industry-wide transformation,” Ford’s statement concluded.

It is unclear how long the Stand Up Strike will last, but Jeff Schuster, head of automotive for the Global Data research firm, says it could last much longer than previous work stoppages.

“This one feels like there’s a lot more at risk here on both sides,” he said, AP News reported.

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