The strike by United Auto Workers (UAW) against General Motors (GM) and Ford has entered its third week, with about 25,000 workers now on strike. UAW chief Shawn Fain ordered workers to walk off the job at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant and GM’s Lansing assembly plant, while Stellantis was spared after last-minute concessions by its parent company, Chrysler. The CEOs of GM and Ford, Mary Barra and Jim Farley, respectively, criticized the UAW leaders, accusing them of not having a real intent to reach an agreement. The CEOs’ comments were met with a response from the UAW, who accused them of not attending bargaining sessions.
The negotiations between the UAW and the automakers have been marred by deep disagreements over wages and benefits at new electric vehicle battery plants that have yet to start production. The UAW is demanding a 40% pay hike over a four-year contract, while the companies have offered pay hikes of about 20%. Ford CEO Farley alleged that UAW chief Fain was holding a deal “hostage” over the issue of electric vehicle battery plants. The union and the automakers remain far apart on key economic issues, and the personal statements from the CEOs indicate that a resolution is not close.
The UAW has taken a deliberate approach to the strike, choosing to walk out of specific assembly plants rather than conducting a mass walkout. This strategy is aimed at pressuring the companies individually and conserving the UAW’s strike fund, which may be strained by additional strikes at other facilities. The strike has already cost the union millions of dollars, with each worker on strike costing $500 per week. The UAW and the automakers also have differences over retirement benefits, job guarantees, and representation of workers at the battery plants. The negotiations are ongoing, but there is no sign of a breakthrough yet.