The United Auto Workers (UAW) is currently engaged in high-stakes contract negotiations with Detroit’s major automakers, Ford Motor Co (NYSE:F) and Stellantis (NYSE:STLA). With the existing labor agreements set to expire in a week, tensions are rising. UAW President Shawn Fain has criticized the automakers for waiting until the last eight days to start negotiations, expressing the need for substantial progress.
UAW is currently in talks with Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis ahead of the September 14 expiration date for labor agreements.
“They chose to follow the same path they have in the past, which is delay, delay,” said Fain during an interview with CNBC, as reported by Reuters. “They waited now, until the last eight days to want to start talking — so we’ve got a lot of work to do. We can get there.”
Fain also emphasized the stark contrast between Ford’s proposed 9% wage increase through 2027 and the UAW’s demand for a 46% increase.
“Our members are fired up because they watched the corporations make a quarter of a trillion dollars in the last decade as we went backwards. We lost money,” said Fain on CNBC’s “Last Call” with Brian Sullivan.
“What angers me is to hear the corporations talk about how workers being treated fairly is going to drive up the cost of vehicles. In the last four years, the cost of vehicles went up 30%; our wages went up 6%; corporate CEO pay went up 40%.”
The union’s requests reportedly include:
- An immediate 20% wage increase.
- Four 5% annual wage increases.
- Pension plans for all workers.
- Shorter 32-hour workweeks.
- Higher cost-of-living adjustments.
- Conversion of temporary workers to permanent employees.
- Increased profit sharing.
- Reinstatement of retiree health-care benefits and cost-of-living adjustments.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) is expected to provide its proposal soon. Stellantis has also committed to delivering a counteroffer on the union’s economic demands.
Notably, the UAW filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis last week, alleging a lack of good-faith bargaining.
Fain discussed the potential consequences of a strike and its political significance.
“I think our strike can reaffirm to [Biden] of where the working-class people in this country stand and, you know, it’s time for politicians in this country to pick a side,” he said to CNBC. “Either you stand for a billionaire class where everybody else gets left behind, or you stand for the working class, the working-class people vote.”
These comments reflect a rare tension between the historically Democratic UAW and President Joe Biden, who has positioned himself as a pro-union figure.
If an agreement is not reached, the UAW, whose 97% of members voted in favor of a strike, will take action.
A potential simultaneous strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers would be unprecedented and could have significant ripple effects on the automotive supply chain and the U.S. economy.
The 2019 GM strike, for instance, lasted 40 days and reportedly cost the company $3.6 billion.
A UAW strike could hit the big three automakers would affect manufacturers, workers, and suppliers could cost $5 billion in a shutdown.
Produced in association with Benzinga