The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which brings together some 145,000 auto industry workers in the United States, has declared a partial strike that affects the three large vehicle manufacturers in the country after failing to reach an agreement. This is a measure that has been described as “historic” by both members of the union and members of business groups.
At the moment, the work stoppage is taking place in three plants, one from each of the groups reached by the measure. We are talking about a General Motors (GM) facility in Missouri, a Ford one in Michigan and a Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) one in Ohio. At this time, Reuters reports, the strike involves around 12,700 workers, although others could join later.
UAW deals a blow to the US automotive big three
According to UAW, the measure is the product of months of negotiations with manufacturers that have not reached a successful conclusion. From the union they say that the automotive industry is changing rapidly and that workers are being harmed by this dynamic. In order for their requests to become a reality, the organization has decided to impact the three manufacturers at the same time.
As we say, there are only three plants affected by the strike at this time. The UAW sees this as a strategic move to resume negotiations with the big three without greatly affecting its production capacity. This gives the union the possibility of increasing the number of facilities on strike in the country in case negotiations stall. But there would also be other reasons.
The Associated Press points out that since striking workers do not receive their full salary, the union must use its strike fund provided by 500 dollars per week to each worker. The fund is about $825 million, so it must be carefully managed, although this type of movement is not common: this is the first strike in the sector since 2019.
What are the union’s demands?
The union’s demands are several. In the salary spectrum, an increase of 36% is requested in a four-year contract. Also sought is an increase in the budget for retirement, limits on the hiring of temporary workers, a four-day work week and the right to strike due to plant closures. Now, the conversations in this regard have not borne good results.
Ford has offered a 20% pay increase, General Motors 18% and Stellantis 17.5%. Manufacturers say they are trying to respond to a high-pressure scenario where they must lower costs and increase investment. The core of this is none other than the electric car, which is driving historical groups to redesign their schemes to confront Tesla (which is not unionized in the United States).
We have to wait to see how the average promoted by UAW will evolve. Bloomberg points out that, if the strike extends over ten days, the GDP of the United States could lose $5.6 billion. It could also trigger a domino effect in other industries, such as steel. In an unfavorable scenario, demand for steel could fall, forcing its production and price to be reduced.
At the level of vehicle deliveries, manufacturers have reserves of pick-ups (the best-selling models at this time in the United States) for approximately 100 days. If the strike becomes a long-term problem, it could also trigger million-dollar economic losses for companies by not being able to meet agreed deliveries.
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