Around 13,000 autoworkers left their job in a strike against the three largest automotive makers in the United States after contract negotiations failed between the union and the manufacturers.
The leaders and members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union organized a walkout and picket at the General Motors (GM) assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan; and the Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
This simultaneous action against the three largest manufacturers is a first in the history of the union. “Workers all over the world are watching this,” said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 60 unions with 12.5 million members.
The walkout is primarily over wages. The UAW leaders and members want an increase of 36% over the next four years. The wage increase offered by Ford and GM amounted to 20%, while Stellantis offered only 17.5%. “They could double our raises and not raise car prices and still make millions of dollars in profits,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “We’re not the problem. Corporate greed is the problem.”
The union is also seeking raises based on the cost of living, an end to varying tiers of wages for factory jobs, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, the restoration of traditional defined-benefit pensions for new hires who now receive only 401(k)-style retirement plans, pension increases for retirees and other items.
Effects of the Strike
The strike will likely have a significant effect on the prices of cars and the economy. The Big Three (Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis) makers make up nearly 40% of the market in the United States. These plants assist in producing other automobiles in different plants, causing slowdowns across these automakers’ plants.
The effects of the strike may reach the 2024 Presidential election, as President Joe Biden claimed to be the “most union-friendly president in American history.” Biden has called on the UAW and Big Three to reach a deal soon.
On Friday, Biden voiced support for the striking workers, “Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers,” Biden continued “No one wants a strike, but I respect workers right to use their options under the collective bargaining system.”