13,000 Auto Workers Strike Over Pay Disparity at “Big Three” Automakers

Approximately 13,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union went on strike at three car factories in the Midwest after failed contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis. The UAW plans additional targeted walkouts at specific factories across multiple states. The main driving force behind the strike is the growing frustration among workers regarding the pay gap between executives and employees. Last year, median worker incomes at the “Big Three” automakers ranged from $68,000 to $80,000, while executives earned up to 365 times that amount in total compensation.

The union’s demands include a 36% wage hike over four years, a 32-hour workweek for 40 hours of pay, and cost-of-living pay raises. While the motor companies have offered some concessions, such as wage increases ranging from 17.5% to 20%, the UAW has not accepted the counteroffers. According to Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, a professor of organizational behavior at Babson, the strikes are a response to the disconnect between CEO pay and employee pay, coupled with rising profits for the automakers.

In addition to higher wages, workers are increasingly valuing being given a seat at the table and trust from their employers. A study by HR consulting firm Gartner found that trust was the main factor influencing employees’ perceptions of fair pay. When organizations communicate with employees about pay decisions, trust increases by 10%, and perceptions of pay equity increase by 11%. However, only 38% of employees surveyed understand how their pay is determined.

The strikes highlight the need for companies to address the pay disparity and include employees in compensation discussions. By doing so, organizations can reduce the likelihood of strikes and labor organizing. As the UAW strike continues, it represents an opportunity for HR leaders and top management to listen to employees’ priorities and work towards a fair and equitable compensation system.


– Fortune (source article)
– Gartner (study)