Courtesy of uaw.union/Instagram
The United Auto Workers union is gearing up for a strike against Detroit’s “Big 3” automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — when their contracts expire on Sept. 14, after rejecting the latest counteroffer on Friday.
UAW, which represents nearly 150,000 auto workers at the Big 3, is demanding double-digit wage increases, more paid time off, and increased retiree pay, along with the restoration of benefits the workers once had, including defined benefit pensions, retiree medical benefits and cost of living adjustments.
The union previously filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming GM and Stellantis are not bargaining in good faith. Both companies submitted counteroffers to the union last week.
The latest counteroffer presented by GM was rejected.
“After refusing to bargain in good faith for the past six weeks, only after having federal labor board charges filed against them, GM has come to the table with an insulting proposal that doesn’t come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement responding to GM’s offer.
“GM either doesn’t care or isn’t listening when we say we need economic justice at GM by 11:59pm on September 14th,” Fain said. “The clock is ticking. Stop wasting our members’ time. Tick tock.”
On Friday, a counteroffer from Stellantis was rejected by the union, which called it a “deeply unfair offer” from “by far the richest” of the three automakers.
“The wage proposal doesn’t make up for inflation, let alone make up for past losses,” the union said in a statement. “They have the money, they just don’t want Stellantis workers to get our fair share.”
According to UAW, GM, Ford and Stellantis made a combined $21 billion in profits in the first six months of 2023, after raking in $250 billion in North American profits over the last decade.
“So what have the Big 3 done with these staggering profits? Instead of rewarding the workers who spent long hours wrecking their bodies on the line to make these profits possible, the Big 3 have funneled billions into stock buyback schemes that artificially inflate the value of company shares,” Fain said in a video message to members last month.
“Record profits mean record contracts,” Fain said.
“Yes, we’re demanding double-digit pay raises,” the UAW said in a statement. “Big Three CEOs saw their pay spike 40 percent on average over the last four years. We know our members are worth the same and more.”
The union is also demanding the end of lower-paid employment tiers, a concession the Teamsters recently won in their new contract with UPS, a deal that was reached under the threat of a strike.
UAW is also seeking the right to strike over plant closures, and the “working family protection program,” which would have automakers pay workers to do community service work if their company leaves town.
“American workers are having a moment, driven to action by a hot economy and a tight labor market,” said Bradley Schurman, founder and CEO of the demographic strategy firm, The Super Age, which helps public and private-sector organizations navigate disruptive population change.
“The potential UAW strike and the unionization of workers at places like Amazon and Starbucks is a reaction to decades of slow wage growth against substantial increases in the cost of living for things like housing and healthcare,” Schurman said.
“They are also reacting to record corporate profits,” Schurman said. “America hasn’t witnessed an economic period quite like this since the end of the Second World War, and workers know that now is their time for action.”
TMX contributed to this article.