United Auto Workers launch historic triple strike against the Big 3 automakers

Late Thursday night, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union initiated a historic strike action against all three major Detroit-based automakers—Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis—following unsuccessful contract negotiations. Approximately 13,000 UAW members across assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri walked off their jobs after their existing labor contracts expired at 11:59 p.m. This marks the first time in the union’s history that it has simultaneously targeted all three automakers.

“Stand Up Strike” Strategy

The UAW has branded the industrial action as the “Stand Up Strike,” focusing on specific plants within each automaker. UAW President Shawn Fain stated, “This strategy will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table.” Union leaders have also indicated that additional plants could be targeted in future waves if negotiations remain stalled.

Automaker Responses

Shortly before midnight, GM released a statement expressing disappointment with the strike action, despite offering what it termed an “unprecedented economic package” that included historic wage increases. Stellantis also expressed disappointment in a statement, saying the company immediately went into contingency mode to protect its operations.

Key Demands

The UAW’s list of demands includes eliminating wage tiers, a 40% wage increase over the lifetime of the contract, restoring the cost-of-living allowance adjustments, defined benefit pensions for all workers, the right to strike over plant closures, and increased benefits to current retirees among other items.

President Fain pointed out that the Detroit automakers collectively earned $21 billion in the first half of this year, arguing that hourly workers deserve their “fair share” given the companies’ robust financial performances.

Background and Previous Labor Actions

The current strike comes after rounds of intense negotiations that have been taking place since late summer. In 2019, a similar strike action took place, but only targeted GM. Automakers have stated they’ve offered strong economic packages, with GM even revealing an offer to push the hourly wage increase up to 20% over the life of the contract, but these have yet to meet UAW demands.

UAW President Fain has also filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis, claiming they have not been bargaining in good faith.

The strike action is seen as a high-stakes gamble for both sides, but it is particularly notable for being an unprecedented move by the UAW to target all three major automakers simultaneously. Both parties have expressed a desire to resolve the standoff as soon as possible. However, as of now, the two sides remain at an impasse, making the future uncertain for both the automakers and the union members.

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