US auto industry strike continues, workers demand 40% wage increase

Picture courtesy of AFP

Remaining defiant in their stand for better pay, employees from the United States’ renowned Big Three auto manufacturers – General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis (the parent company of Dodge and Chrysler in the US) – continued to strike for a second day. The lack of agreement between the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and the companies could potentially destabilise the economy and influence the 2024 presidential race.

Negotiations held on Thursday night failed to yield a compromise, leading to UAW members walking out on Friday. UAW President Shawn Fain denied rumours of a breakdown in talks but confirmed the auto union’s resolve to continue the strike.

“Our members and allies are standing strong at the picket lines. Anyone who wants to stand with us can grab a sign and hold the line.”

While only a fraction, approximately 12,700, of the 150,000 UAW-represented workers are striking, their joint action conveys a powerful message in their fight for a 40% pay rise. This unrest in the critical automotive sector could potentially disrupt the US economy in a period of robust growth and rising inflation, reported Bangkok Post.

Related news

The auto strike has received support from President Joe Biden, who is seeking reelection next year. He empathised with the workers’ frustration and urged the companies to offer better contracts to the UAW.

“The companies have made some significant offers but I believe they should go further to ensure that record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

This sentiment was echoed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a hub of US auto manufacturing, underlining the political influence of the unions. Sanders called for a better quality of life for auto workers.

“This is the richest country in the history of the world and families in this country and families in the auto industry should not have to live under this kind of stress.”

The strike currently affects one auto plant at each company: a GM factory in Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis facility in Toledo, Ohio; and a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan that handles the final assembly and paint operations. However, the possibility of the strike expanding remains high.

The workers, particularly the hourly wage earners, believe that the auto companies must offer significantly superior packages. They say benefit cuts following the 2008 financial crisis led to paltry wages and the need for more compensation. Paul Sievert, a 29-year veteran at Ford’s Wayne plant, called for fair compensation

“This company has been making money off of us for years. I think it’s time that we got back.”

Negotiations are expected to continue, with General Motors recently increasing its proposed wage increase to 20% from the initial 18%. The company released a statement on Friday, stating its intention to “continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

Follow more of The Thaiger’s latest stories on our new Facebook page HERE.

Business NewsWorld News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Related Articles