Thousands of employees represented by the United Auto Workers union went on strike Friday at three major U.S. assembly plants after both sides failed to reach a new contract.
About 13,000 workers combined at a General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan, and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, walked off the job as the UAW pressures the so-called Big Three for better wages and benefits offers for workers.
It is the first time in the union’s 88-year history that it has gone on strike simultaneously at all three companies.
The contracts of 146,000 auto workers expired at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, but employees at all other plants will continue working, at least for the time being.
UAW President Shawn Fain warned that more strikes could be scheduled if companies do not move forward in negotiations.
United Auto Workers picket at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, shortly after midnight on September 15, 2023.AP
United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain joins striking UAW members at the Ford Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, September 15, 2023. REUTERS
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain walks with striking union members at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on Sept. 15, 2023.AP
As soon as the contracts expired, multitudes of workers They held pro-union signs and chanted “We are the union! Powerful Union! The entire workers union! A union that kicks ass! outside the plants.
When the strike began, Fain joined workers outside the Ford assembly plant, which makes Bronco SUVs and Ranger midsize pickup trucks and employs 3,300 people who will strike.
“Enough is enough. It’s time to decide what kind of world we want to live in. And it’s time to decide what we’re willing to do to get there,” Fain told striking union members at Ford.
UAW members hold signs outside the UAW Local 900 headquarters, across from the Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 15, 2023. AFP via Getty Images
Supporters applaud as members of the United Auto Workers go on strike at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 15, 2023.Getty Images
Workers at all other plants stayed on the job as their union brothers and sisters led the fight for better wages, but Fain warned that there would be more strikes if manufacturers don’t come around to the union’s requests.
“They could double our increases and not raise car prices and still make millions of dollars in profits,” he said. “We are not the problem. “Corporate greed is the problem.”
The union boss said companies can afford to pay their workers more to make up for concessions made starting in 2007 to help automakers through tough times. Manufacturers have made billions in profits since then and only spend 4% to 5% of a vehicle’s cost on labor.
UAW President Shawn Fain said Thursday night that more factories could be added to the strike list if negotiations don’t go the way the union wants. AFP via Getty Images
The UAW has asked the three companies for 36% pay increases over four years, an end to different pay levels for workers, pension increases for retirees, a return to defined benefit pensions for new employees instead of just 401(k) plans and a 32-hour work week with no pay deduction.
Ford and GM recently offered 20% pay increases and Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, is known to have offered 17.5% pay increases.
The companies have called the union’s demands unreasonable and said the UAW has not responded to their latest offers, which Ford said were “historically generous.”
Ford Motor Chairman and CEO Jim Farley attends the North American International Auto Show press day in Detroit, Michigan September 13, 2023. REUTERS
Members of the United Auto Workers leave the plant and go on strike at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 5, 2023. Getty Images
“If implemented, the proposal would more than double Ford’s current UAW-related labor costs, which are already significantly higher than the labor costs of Tesla, Toyota and other foreign-owned automakers in the United States that use manual labor.” of work not represented by unions. Ford said in a statement Thursday night.
GM manufacturing chief Gerald Johnson said the union’s initial demands would have cost more than $100 billion.
“That’s not reasonable,” he said in a video statement released Thursday night. “It is more than double the value of all of General Motors and is absolutely impossible to absorb and continue to compete in today’s automotive market.”
With postal cables