The United Auto Workers – the labor union that represents workers in the US automotive industry – launched a large strike against all Big Three automakers in the country. The first reports claim that nearly 13,000 UAW workers went on strike early Friday in what is a historic strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. This is the first time in the 88-year history of the organization that a strike is started simultaneously against the three largest American automakers.
The UAW and the Big Three automakers have been in talks over extending the four-year contracts signed in 2019 but the talks stalled in the final hours of negotiations despite the record-high proposed raises of up to 20 percent. Eventually, the union refused to sign a new deal leading to what is described as a “righteous fight” against the Big Three automakers by UAW President Shawn Fain.
“This strategy will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table,” Fain said in a livestream to UAW members on Facebook Live shortly after the strikes began. “No matter what, all of us need to keep organizing: Rallies, protests, red shirt days. We must show the companies you are ready to join and stand up and fight on a moment’s notice.”
The strike called Stand Up Strike targets specific plants of Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. This quickly affected the production of high-demand vehicles such as the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Chevrolet Colorado. The UAW has been negotiating with all three automakers since late summer.
General Motors and Stellantis reacted minutes after the strike started with official announcements. “We are disappointed by the UAW leadership’s actions, despite the unprecedented economic package GM put on the table, including historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments,” GM’s statement reads. “We are 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,” Stellantis said in its statement.
According to the available information, the strike will last at least into this weekend. If the strategy doesn’t work for UAW to get a new deal, more plants across the country could be struck, increasing the pressure on the automakers. While the initial strike targets plants of different companies, alternatively, the union could move to a different strategy where it blocks all plants of a single manufacturer.