Union Makes History by Striking Against Three Automakers at Once

Union Makes History by Striking Against Three Automakers at Once

(UnitedVoice.com) – Approximately 13,000 auto workers who belong to the United Auto Workers (UAW) went on strike on September 15. The decision came after weeks of negotiations resulted in no deal with the Big Three — Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. It was the first time in history that employees were striking at all three.

Auto Bailout and Record Profits

In 2007 and 2009, UAW agreed to a number of concessions to stop the bleeding in the auto industry and hopefully save jobs as companies were sliding toward bankruptcy. For example, they agreed to a lower amount of pay and benefits for workers who were hired in 2007. They also lost their cost of living adjustment (COLA) in the 2007 negotiations.

In 2009, then-President Barack Obama just took office and was faced with a tanking economy. The Great Recession had begun. Banks and the housing market both collapsed. Millions of Americans were unemployed, and more people were losing their jobs every day. The auto industry was on the brink of collapse.

The president and Congress took action. Following former President George W. Bush’s lead, who had announced $18 billion in aid for the industry, lawmakers and Obama invested around $80 billion into the auto companies. More than a decade later, UAW is demanding increases in pay and benefits.

Strike Called

UAW represents about 150,000 autoworkers in Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri. General Motors and Ford have announced they will be laying off about 2,600 non-striking workers because their facilities rely on parts from the striking plants to operate.

The union is asking for a 36% pay increase over four years. They also want to eliminate some of the concessions they agreed to during the 2007 and 2009 negotiations. For example, they want to get rid of the lower tier pay the workers hired in 2007 were being paid. They also want to revert to the traditional pension plan and retiree health coverage for those workers. Currently, they are only receiving a 401(k). UAW is also demanding the return of their COLA so that their wages increase with inflation.

UAW President Shawn Fain has pointed to the record profits enjoyed by auto manufacturers. He has repeatedly said the Big Three have increased CEO pay by 40% over the past four years, so he thinks workers should receive the same raise.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she doesn’t “know where the 40% came from.” The Associated Press reported her pay has increased 34% since 2019. James Farley, the CEO of Ford, is earning 21% more than the company’s CEO in 2019 was making. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is making almost 77% more than the former CEO was earning in 2019. However, the bulk of all three executive’s pay depends on how well the company’s stock is doing.

As of September 18, the union and automakers have been unable to reach an agreement.

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