Auto workers at three of the Detroit carmaker’s most popular vehicles walked off the job Friday in what could become a protracted strike that could hurt the U.S. economy and affect the 2024 presidential election.
Nearly 13,000 members of the United Garth Workers at plants in Ohio, Michigan and Missouri joined early Friday and met.
The union’s four-year contracts with the three automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellandis, which are owned by Chrysler, Jeep and Ram — expired Thursday.
UAW President Sean Fine used harsh language Thursday to explain why his members were striking against three automakers at once — something the union has never done in its nearly 90-year history.
“This is the defining moment of our generation,” said Mr. “The money is there, the cause is just, the world is watching, and the UAW is ready to stand up.”
The union and companies did not hold talks Friday, but the UAW said it plans to negotiate Saturday. President Biden sent two senior administration officials to Detroit on Friday to encourage companies and unions to reach agreements.
At a Ford plant in Wayne, Mich., west of Detroit, strikers waved signs — one read, “Record Profits; Record Contracts” — and Hahn gave the striking vehicles a thumbs-up. A metal sign on a chain-link fence read, “No foreign cars allowed at all.” ” it read. The protesters were assigned six-hour shifts during the picketing. If the strike continued, they would be called to one shift a week.
First, while there is a war between auto workers and automakers, the conflict could have long-term consequences. A prolonged strike would reduce the number of new cars available for sale, fueling inflation and the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates high.
A strike by Mr. That presents a problem for Biden, who has called for increased incomes but also has to be mindful of the economic impact of the strike and his goal to promote electric vehicles as a solution to climate change.
Speaking at the White House on Friday, the president strongly supported the union. “Over the past decade, including the last few years, auto companies have seen record profits because of the extraordinary talent and sacrifice of UAW workers,” he said. “But those record profits are not shared fairly.”
The UAW says its wage demands roughly correspond to increases in compensation for top executives at Ford, GM and Stellantis. The raises also help compensate workers for ground lost to inflation and major union concessions to automakers after the 2007-8 financial crisis, when GM and Chrysler were forced to reorganize themselves in bankruptcy court.
But auto executives say U.S. workers are already paying production workers significantly more than rivals such as Tesla and Toyota, where they are not unionized. Companies also argue that such large hikes could undermine their efforts to develop electric vehicles, as the industry makes the difficult and expensive transition from gasoline cars and trucks to electric vehicles.
If the unions get everything they’re asking for, “we’ll have to cancel our EV investments,” Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley said in an interview Friday. Instead, Ford should focus on larger sport utility vehicles and pickups, which are more profitable, he said.
Ford, which employs most union members, posted a profit of $1.9 billion in the second quarter, equivalent to 4 percent of its sales. Tesla earned $2.7 billion in the same period, about 11 percent of its sales.
Mr. Farley sounded pessimistic about the chances of agreeing a deal soon. “They are not negotiating in good faith if they are proposing deals that they know are going to undermine our investments,” he said.
Mr. The closing of Fine’s three factories is a departure for the union, which in previous strikes has typically walked out of all of an automaker’s factories. By interrupting production of some of the most profitable vehicles, the union hopes to inflict pain on automakers while allowing most plants to continue operating and allowing most of its members to continue collecting paychecks.
But it may be difficult for the association to control the damage to the income of its members. Ford told non-striking Michigan workers to stay home Friday because of parts shortages caused by the strike. GM said it may lay off 2,000 workers at a plant in Kansas next week because of a lack of parts produced at a plant near St. Louis that is on strike.
Less than 10 percent of the UAW’s 150,000 members at the three companies are on strike. Limited strikes would allow the union to keep up the pressure by protecting $825 million in strike funds. The union will pay striking workers $500 per week and cover their health insurance premiums.
Workers closed the Stellandis complex in Toledo, Ohio, in addition to a Ford plant in Michigan that makes the Bronco and Ranger pickup truck, and a GM plant in Wentzville, Mo., that makes the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado. It makes the Jeep Gladiator and Jeep Wrangler. If no agreement is reached, the union is expected to target additional factories in the coming weeks.
The union is also seeking a cost-of-living adjustment that would protect workers if inflation picks up again. The union wants to restore agreed pensions, improved retirement benefits and shorter working hours to new workers after the financial crisis. The union also wants to eliminate a wage system that allows new employees to start at a much lower wage than the UAW’s top wage of $32 an hour.
As of Friday last week, companies had offered to raise wages by about 14.5 percent to 20 percent over four years. Their offers include lump sum payments to help offset the effects of inflation and policy changes that raise wages for recently hired and temporary workers, who typically earn about a third less than senior union members.
In a last-minute effort to keep assembly lines running, GM gave its employees a 20 percent raise late Thursday and said it was willing to pay cost-of-living adjustments to veteran workers. A 20 percent raise would be more than employees have received in decades. But the union rejected the offer, saying it could not keep pace with inflation.
Automakers’ leaders have criticized the UAW’s tactics. When he became president in March, Mr. He took office as a result of a federal corruption investigation that led to prison sentences for two former UAW leaders.
Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellandis, Mr. Fine called the strategy “posturing.” Ford’s Mr. Farley said the two sides should negotiate “instead of planning strikes and PR events”. Also Mary D. “Every negotiation takes on the personality of its leader,” said Barra, the GM chief executive.
If auto workers succeed, they can inspire workers in other industries. Union activity is on the rise: Hollywood screenwriters and actors have been on strike for months, and in August, United Parcel Service workers won their biggest pay raises in a deal negotiated by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Mijin Cha, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz who studies the relationship between labor interests and the fight against climate change, said, “Labor has been squeezed for too long. “People are seeing that there is a path to greater economic security and workers are empowered together.”
Late Friday, at an outdoor rally in Detroit attended by several hundred UAW members, Mr. Fine introduced Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. Conditions and Pensions in Automobile Sector. It’s a fight to take on corporate greed.
The strikes come as auto manufacturing is still recovering from the effects of a pandemic that has caused shortages of semiconductors and other components. Car prices and wait times are down, but dealer inventories are limited and a prolonged strike will eventually make it harder to find popular American-made models.
“We’re not getting back up to speed inventory-wise,” said Wes Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge, a car dealership in Jackson, Mich.
Scarcity isn’t always bad for automakers. This allowed them to have higher profit margins during epidemics. This will benefit any car makers who have trouble moving certain models. Pat Ryan, chief executive of car-shopping app Co-Pilot, said Stellandis has at least 100 days of inventory for brands like Dodge and Chrysler, and a strike would help clear many dealers’ lots.
Still, if prices for popular models rise, it could be another speed bump on the Federal Reserve’s path to reducing inflation, and Mr. Political responsibility for Biden. The president, who had no formal role in the negotiations, said Friday that he had sent two administration officials to Detroit and contacted union leaders and auto executives.
Reporting contributed Neil E. Boudette, J. Edward Moreno, Saint Nergar And Gina Smialek.