(c) Reuters. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers union may opt to strike targeted auto plants if they fail to reach new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers before a Thursday night deadline, sources told Reuters on Tuesday. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United Auto Workers union may opt to strike targeted auto plants if they fail to reach new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers before a Thursday night deadline, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
UAW President Shawn Fain has vowed to call strikes at General Motors (NYSE:), Ford Motor (NYSE:) and Chrysler-parent Stellantis (NYSE:) if no deal is reached when the current four-year labor deals covering 146,000 U.S. workers expire on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET (0359 GMT Friday). One UAW local called the plan a “stand-up strike” on Facebook (NASDAQ). Fain will announce the union’s plan of strike on Wednesday night. Fain briefed locals unions about the talks on Monday. The Detroit Free Press reported the plan earlier.
Targeting strategic plants could quickly force automakers to halt U.S. production and could extend the time before the UAW’s $825 million strike fund is exhausted.
Coordinated strikes would mark the first-ever simultaneous labor stoppage at all three Detroit automakers and one of the largest U.S. industrial labor actions in recent years.
Automakers are facing pressure from some lawmakers to offer more generous contracts. Nancy Pelosi, former House Speaker, stated that automakers “have the ability and opportunity to invest in workers” after the 2007 government bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler. Both companies are now owned by Stellantis. Pelosi supported the UAW in its call for “a well-earned wage raise, and to respect new workers as much as possible, along with better working conditions, and job security.” Jim Farley, Ford CEO, told reporters on Tuesday that he was “very optimistic” about reaching an agreement with UAW within the next two weeks. “It’s time to get together. “
A UAW strike that shuts the Detroit Three manufacturers could cost carmakers, suppliers and workers over $5 billion, Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group estimated, and could lead to a disruption of the broader auto supplier network.
Senator Bernie Sanders said in an opinion piece Tuesday that if the Detroit automakers “do not provide reasonable contracts to address longstanding inequities in the industry, there will be a strike – and all of us should support the strikers. The UAW rejected Stellantis’ revised offer on Friday. GM made a new offer to the UAW over the weekend, but the details were not immediately available.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last few days,” GM President Mark Reuss said at an Automotive News conference in Detroit. The give-and-take is happening. The company announced on Tuesday that GM CEO Mary Barra had decided to not attend the Business Roundtable meetings on Washington’s Wednesday and Thursday due to the labor negotiations. Barra chairs the association of over 200 CEOs from major U.S. corporations.
The UAW initially sought a 20% wage hike upon ratification and four annual 5% hikes, but has trimmed those hikes to around 36% in total, three sources told Reuters.
Stellantis said Friday it offered U.S. hourly workers a 14.5% wage hike over four years, while GM had offered workers a 10% wage hike and two additional 3% annual lump-sum payments over four years. Stellantis last week did not offer additional lump-sum payments.
Ford last week hiked its offer to a 10% wage hike and lump sum payments after offering a 9% wage increase through 2027 and 6% lump sum payments.
The union’s demands include restoring defined benefit pensions for all workers, 32-hour work weeks and additional cost-of-living hikes, as well as job security guarantees and an end to use of temporary workers.