The President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Shawn Fain, asserted on Wednesday that the union remains steadfast in its pursuit of substantial wage increases as negotiations persist with the Detroit Big Three automakers. This declaration comes just a day before the expiration of the existing four-year labor agreements.
“We’re making progress but it’s slow. The clock is ticking,” Fain conveyed in an interview with ABC News, underscoring the urgency of the situation. He further disclosed that additional discussions are slated, emphasizing, “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Fain, resolute in his stance, has not refrained from considering strikes at General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, in the event of an impasse. Reports from Reuters and other sources on Tuesday evening indicated that the UAW is contemplating targeted strikes at specific auto plants should negotiations fail to yield new contracts covering the 146,000 U.S. auto workers.
Sources privy to the matter disclosed that the UAW is mulling over the possibility of initiating work stoppages at select plants affiliated with the three Detroit automakers initially, though the strike strategy remains subject to potential revisions. This focused approach carries the potential to promptly compel automakers to suspend U.S. production, potentially prolonging the time before the UAW’s $825 million strike fund is depleted.
Initially, the UAW had put forth a request for a 20% wage increase upon ratification, coupled with four annual 5% increments. However, three sources informed Reuters that the union had extended an offer to trim these raises to an approximate 36% in total. Fain, nonetheless, has affirmed that the union remains committed to a 40% aggregate increase.
Stellantis announced on Friday that it had proposed a 14.5% wage increase over four years for its U.S. hourly workers. Meanwhile, General Motors tabled an offer of a 10% wage hike, complemented by two additional 3% yearly lump-sum payments over the same period. Notably, Stellantis refrained from including extra lump-sum payments in its latest offer.
Following suit, Ford adjusted its proposal to encompass a 10% wage hike along with lump sum payments, after initially presenting a plan for a 9% wage boost extending through 2027, coupled with 6% lump sum payments.
In addition to wage considerations, the UAW’s demands encompass the reinstatement of defined benefit pensions for all employees, a reduction in working hours, augmented cost-of-living adjustments, assurances of job security, and an end to the utilization of temporary staff.
Should coordinated strikes materialize, it would mark the first simultaneous labor cessation at all three Detroit automakers and constitute one of the most expansive industrial labor actions in recent U.S. history.
Projections from the Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group suggest that a UAW strike halting operations at the Detroit Three could potentially incur losses exceeding $5 billion for automakers, suppliers, and workers, potentially disrupting the broader auto supplier network.