Published on September 18th, 2023 | by Subhash Nair


American Auto Workers Go On Historic Strike Against Big Three

The UAW has been on a massive targeted strike against Ford, GM and Stellantis.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents 145,000 workers in the car industry, has been on targeted strikes since last Thursday. The strikes involve 12,700 UAW workers and began as UAW’s contracts expired with the three largest auto conglomerates in the United States – General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Stellantis.

These three brands represent about 40% of the US’s market share. This is the first time the UAW has decided to go after all three American car companies simultaneously, which should net them more negotiating power.

UAW has decided to target one factory from each of the three companies – the Wentzville GM plant in Missouri, Stelanntis’ Toledo plant, and the Wayne, Michigan Ford plant. These factories primarily build SUVs and pick-up trucks for these brands, which are significant cash cows for these American brands. Workers on strike are eligible for US$500 a week from the UAW’s strike US$825 million fund.

To help bring the strike to an end, all three companies are offering a 20% raise during the life of the contract with a 10% raise at the start. The UAW is demanding an immediate salary raise of 20% and four additional raises of 5% of the course of the four-year deal.

For context, UAW workers get paid US$16.67 per hour at minimum, with the average worker earning US$28 per hour and the top earners getting US$32.32 an hour.

GM’s CEO Mary Barra’s annual salary is US$29 million annually, rising 34% over the last four years. Ford’s current CEO Jim Farley, who is the lowest paid amongst the Big Three bosses, still took home US$21 million in 2022. Even if he worked an 80+ hour week, that equates to earning over US$5,000 an hour.

Today will be the fourth day of the strike, which could go on to cost the US economy US$5 billion should it drag on for ten days. Negotiations were ongoing throughout the weekend with GM and will continue today with Stellantis and Ford. UAW President Shawn Fain says that all three companies should have ironed things out during the bargaining stage back in mid-July. Besides better pay, the UAW is demanding shorter work weeks, a better pension programme and stronger job security as the industry shifts towards electric vehicles.

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