(US) – A strike involving more than 10,000 employees has commenced at three of the largest automobile manufacturers in the United States, according to their union.
The strike has disrupted operations at General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis, with workers at these companies halting work at various plants. This labor action began after the expiration of labor contracts on Thursday night. The United Autoworkers Union (UAW) initiated the strike, asserting that the companies had not presented acceptable proposals.
The ongoing strike poses potential challenges, including higher prices for consumers and substantial disruptions for the automotive industry giants. Shawn Fain, the UAW‘s president, stated that it’s now the responsibility of the companies to resolve the dispute.
The strike officially started at midnight Eastern Time (04:00 GMT) at GM’s Wentzville, Missouri mid-size truck plant, Ford’s Bronco plant in Michigan, and the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, owned by Stellantis. These facilities play a crucial role in the production of some of the most profitable vehicles for the “Detroit Three.”
While other facilities will continue to operate, the UAW has not ruled out the possibility of expanding the strikes beyond the initial three targets.
US auto workers strike begins at key plants amid contract dispute
As the deadline approached on Thursday, the White House confirmed that President Joe Biden had engaged in a phone call with Mr. Fain regarding the negotiations but did not provide further details.
Among the UAW’s demands was a 40% wage increase over four years for its approximately 140,000 members, in line with a similar increase in executive compensation. They called for stricter limits on the classification of workers as “temporary,” denying them union benefits.
Ford argued that the UAW’s proposals would more than double the company’s labor costs in the United States. Last month, 97% of the union’s members voted to authorize a strike.
Workers emphasized that the companies could afford to be more generous, given their record profits over the years.
Paul Raczka, a worker at a Stellantis factory in Michigan, which produces Jeep Grand Cherokees, expressed his perspective. He comes from a family with three generations working in the industry, and these jobs used to provide excellent healthcare and secure pensions. However, he feels that such a quality of life is no longer attainable.
He mentioned that despite his role in manufacturing cars, he couldn’t even afford to purchase one. Raczka emphasized the stark contrast between the compensation of CEOs, who earn upwards of $20 million per year, and the workers’ situation.
Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, previously expressed hope for avoiding a strike but noted the company’s limits regarding concessions. He stated, “We have to protect the sustainability of the company.”
According to estimates by the Anderson Economic Group, a 10-day strike could cost the three firms nearly $1 billion (£800 million) and result in nearly $900 million in lost wages for workers. The total economic impact could surpass $5 billion, with a significant duration required to significantly affect national economic indicators.