UAW Local 2250 union strike outside General Motors Wentzville Assembly Plant in Wentzville, Missouri, September 15, 2023 Wentzville Assembly Plant workers are considered GM workers.
Unions at three major U.S. automakers have launched unprecedented simultaneous strikes at three U.S. factories to demand higher wages, threatening the economy and President Joe Biden’s re-election.
Horns and applause greeted the arrival of Sean Fein, head of the powerful United Auto Workers (UAW), in front of a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, in the Detroit area. Shortly before that, Sean Fein had announced the three factories selected. He joins General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford groups in starting a strike.
“Tonight, for the first time in our history, we are striking simultaneously across the ‘Big Three,'” Fein said just before the deadline to agree on collective bargaining agreements, particularly on pay increases. .
In addition to Wayne, two other centers on strike are GM’s Wentzville, Missouri, and Stellantis’ Toledo, Ohio assembly plants. According to the union, about 12,700 employees are scheduled to go on strike this Friday.
But Fein stressed that the movement could grow, urging the roughly 146,000 union members working at these manufacturers to strike depending on how negotiations unfold.
Prolonged social conflict could have political consequences, especially for Mr. Biden, whose economic management has been criticized for persistent inflation.
Biden, who is campaigning for re-election in 2024, faces a difficult time balancing his support for labor unions with concerns about the impact of the strike on the U.S. economy. I have to take it.
The President is scheduled to speak on this topic this Friday.
A 10-day strike could cost the U.S. economy more than $5 billion in lost revenue, according to consulting firm Anderson Economic Group (AEG).
Negotiations between the union and the construction company to create a new four-year collective agreement began two months ago.
Workers in the industry are demanding higher wages and more benefits, but manufacturing, which has been profitable in recent years, has tightened its grip after the 2008 financial crisis.
The last strike in this area was back in 2019 and only affected GM. The strike lasted six weeks.
According to the union, the UAW is demanding a wage increase of about 40% over four years, but the three manufacturing companies have not exceeded 20% (Ford).
“This company has been profiting from us for years,” said Paul Siebert, an employee who has worked at Ford’s Wayne plant for 29 years. “I think it’s time for them to give us something in return.”
Detroit’s three largest and most historic companies also refused to grant additional vacation time or increase pensions through special funds at each company.
“We are absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards our employees and protects our ability to invest in Ford’s future,” Ford said in a statement.
The group said the proposal it made to unions more than two days ago was “historically generous, with significant pay increases and other benefits.”
In response to a question on CNN on Friday, GM CEO Mary Barra said the package includes “a 20% increase in gross pay, as well as profit sharing, world-class health care and several other features.” Defended the manufacturer’s proposal.
“I think we have a very competitive offer,” he said.
Stellantis said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed in the UAW leadership’s refusal to responsibly work toward a fair agreement.”
In an effort to calm the situation, Mr. Biden spoke by phone with Mr. Fein and construction industry leaders Thursday night.
In mid-August, he advocated for a “fair” win-win deal that would strengthen workers’ rights during the transition to electric vehicles.