The United Auto Workers Strike: Demands of the Workers and Automakers Pushback

In a major contract dispute with car manufacturers, the United Auto Workers (UAW) launched a massive strike this week, demanding better wages and working conditions. Detroit Free Press and USA Today automotive reporter Jamie LaReau provides insight into the latest developments.

The demands of the workers include a 40% hourly wage increase over the next 4.5 years or the life of the contract, a 90-day progression to top pay (reducing the current eight-year period), an end to tier wages, reinstatement of pensions, a 32-hour work week with payment for 40 hours, an increase in retiree pay, more paid time off, and the reinstatement of Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which was lost in 2009. COLA is particularly significant due to inflation.

Automakers, including Ford and GM, have expressed concerns about meeting these demands. They argue that such demands would be unrealistic and could negatively impact the financial health of the companies. Both Ford and GM are currently investing billions of dollars in transitioning to electric vehicles and developing autonomous vehicles. All profits have been reinvested in these initiatives and ensuring company profitability, including the payment of profit sharing checks.

Union leaders have also announced their intention to target additional plants for strikes if negotiations fail. This tactic aims to increase pressure on automakers and escalate the impact of the strikes. The union is strategic in its approach, starting with plants that produce popular but not financially devastating products. The hope is that they can pressure automakers to meet their demands before targeting more critical plants.

This strike is historic because it is the first time that the UAW has simultaneously struck all three major automakers. The negotiations have unfolded in uncharted waters, with unprecedented tactics and approaches. Unlike previous negotiations, where the union would focus on one automaker and use that deal as the pattern for the other two, this time they did not pick a target. Instead, they told the automakers to come forward with their best deals, signaling a new approach to achieving their goals.

– Detroit Free Press and USA Today Automotive Reporter Jamie LaReau
– Ford and GM statements