Detroit’s Big Three automakers couldn’t reachIt was one of the largest strikes to hit the United States in years before their contract with workers represented by the United Auto Workers expired at midnight Thursday.
UAW President Shawn Fine said in a Facebook Live address late Thursday that workers at three Ford, General Motors and Stellandis factories will walk off the job immediately: a GM assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, and a Stellandis plant in Toledo, Ohio. Assembly Complex.
“Tonight, for the first time in our history, we’ll be hitting all three big three at once,” he said.
About 12,700 employees at those facilities will participate in the labor action, according to Reuters news service. According to The Associated Press, workers will be paid $500 a week from the UAW’s $825 million strike fund.
“Locals who have not yet been called to join the strike will continue to work under the expired contract,” Fine said.
He told CNN he didn’t expect a deal Friday but that the pages could be on the table Saturday.
As the midnight deadline approached, dozens of workers gathered outside the Ford plant in Wayne, while a mass rally was planned for Friday afternoon in downtown Detroit.
“We will show our strength and unity on the first day of this historic operation,” Fine said. “All options are on the table.”
The strike marks the Detroit automakers’ first since workers walked out of GM in 2019.
What Auto Workers Want
The UAW’s demands include a 36% wage increase in a four-year contract; Retirement benefits for all employees; Limited use of temporary workers; More paid holidays, incl; Many job protections, including the right to strike in connection with plant closures.
As talks stalled Thursday, leaders of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) said they had made several offers to the UAW in recent weeks in hopes of signing the union’s 145,000 workers to a new contract.
“I think they’re preparing for a historic strike with all three companies,” Ford CEO Jim Farley told CBS News on Thursday.
Ford later said in a statement, “Today at 8 p.m. at Solidarity House in Detroit, the United Auto Workers presented its first substantive counterproposal to Ford within hours of the expiration of the current four-year collective bargaining agreement.”
After the strike was underway, Stellandis said, “We are deeply disappointed by the UAW leadership’s refusal to responsibly engage in reaching a fair agreement for the benefit of our employees, their families and our customers. We have immediately terminated the organization and taken all appropriate structural decisions to protect Mode and our North American operations and the organization.” will take.”
GM added: “Despite the unprecedented GM economic package on the table, including historic wage increases and production guarantees, we are disappointed by the actions of UAW leadership. We will negotiate in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as soon as possible. In the meantime, for the benefit of our team members, customers, suppliers and communities across the U.S. , our priority is the safety of our employees.”
While the Big Three are not willing to meet all of the UAW’s demands, they argue that they have made reasonable counter-offers and are willing to negotiate further. Outlining their position, automaker officials say they are under increasing pressure to compete with Tesla and foreign automakers, especially as companies vie for share in the growing electric vehicle market.
“Their initial offer is to pay our hourly workers $300,000 each and work four days,” Farley said of the UAW’s demands Thursday. “It would basically put our company out of business.”
“If the strike lasts more than three to four weeks, it could be moderately damaging to GM and Ford’s EV strategy in 2024. … While Detroit stalwarts battle the UAW, a bottle of champagne is being iced at Tesla headquarters,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said in a statement. said.
While Fine acknowledged that automakers have raised their wage offers, he said those proposals are not enough. Ford has delivered 20% over 4.5 years, while GM and Stellantis have delivered 18% and 17.5% over four years, respectively.
Analysts warn that the strike could disrupt the domestic auto industry, send car prices soaring, and lead to nearly $6 billion in lost wages and earnings, while reducing overall U.S. economic growth by up to 0.3%.