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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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13,000 UAW Members Begin Strike Against Automakers

On Sept. 15, 13,000 U.S. auto workers went on strike after automakers and their employees could not reach common ground between union demands and what the Detroit automakers are willing to pay.

Members of the United Auto Workers union began picketing at a General Motors assembly factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan, near Detroit, and a Stellantis factory in Toledo, Ohio.

The union’s demands include a 46% wage increase, restoration of traditional pensions, cost-of-living increases, reducing the workweek to 32 hours from 40 and increasing retiree benefits.

The UAW said 98% of hourly workers and 99% of salaried workers at Ford voted in favor of an authorization. GM passed by 96%, while the action was approved at Stellantis by 95%.

This is the first time in the union’s 88-year long history that all three manufacturers have been targeted.

An ongoing strike at this level can put major strain on our economy and could cause vehicle prices to increase. 

“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.

It is important to note that not all 146,000 UAW union members are walking the picket line.

The union has more than $825 million in strike funds that would be used to pay members $500 per week while on strike. Last year the strike payout was $275 per week.

Assuming 150,000 members are covered by the contract, a union member walkout would cost $75 million per week. So with the available funds, the union can only afford to go on strike for 11 weeks.

The strike funds do not cover health care costs, if health care was covered it would drain the funds much quicker.

The limited-strike strategy could have ripple effects, GM CEO Mary Barra said in a Friday interview on CNBC.

“A lot of our assembly plants also have contiguous stamping plants that may serve other plants,” Barra said. We’ve worked to have a very efficient manufacturing network, so yes, even one plant is going to start to have impact.”

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear issued the following statement in response to the strike at all three Detroit car companies.

“Is this what the most pro-union president in history wants for America? Putting companies out of business, people out of jobs, work stoppages and now crippling strikes? If this is our future, we want nothing to do with it.

“Does anyone think demanding a 40% pay raise is reasonable, let alone realistic? Nor is a four-day work week, paid at 40 hours. How exactly do you assemble vehicles without your employees present?

“The UAW needs to stop showboating off the heels of this administration’s union-biased agenda, come to the table, and put our nation’s economy first.” 

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