Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) began a significant strike this week, following a number of disagreements with American automakers. The shutdown could have major implications both for Detroit and the wider state of the American economy.
The strike includes more than 13,000 employees of Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis, which includes Fiat Chrysler. The strike currently includes three facilities, including one in Michigan, one in Missouri and one in Ohio.
The union had requested raises of more than 35% over four years at the plant. Ford and General Motors offered a 20% increase while the former Fiat Chrysler offered a similar one. The union also requested a 32-hour work week, while receiving pay for 40 hours.
Employees also requested pay increases tied to inflation and traditional pensions for new employees. GM said that it offered a “compelling and unprecedented economic package,” including inflation-adjusted raises, more time off and an increase in retirement health savings.
Stellantis said that it was “extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership’s refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement in the best interest of our employees, their families and our customers.”
Ford commented that the current strike “could have wide-ranging consequences for our business and the economy. It also impacts the very 57,000 UAW-Ford workers we are trying to reward with this contract.”
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Biden, who positioned himself as an ally of organized labor during his political career, had predicted that such a strike would not occur.
“No, I’m not worried about a strike until it happens. I don’t think it’s going to happen,” the president said earlier this month.
Biden also said that current profits by American automakers should allow for raises for employees and an end to the strike.
“The companies have made some significant offers,” he said this week. “But I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”
The UAW strike represents the third major strike occurring nationwide. Writers and actors in Hollywood are also striking, in part due to fear about the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), among other factors.
In addition, a railway strike was only narrowly averted last year.