The clock is ticking for America’s Big Three automakers, with a landmark announcement from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union echoing through the automotive industry.
A Unprecedented Threat
United Auto Workers President, Shawn Fain, made a game-changing revelation on Thursday night.
During a live broadcast on Facebook, he announced that the union is ready to initiate a strike against all three major car manufacturers: GM, Ford, and Stellantis. This comes as a response to the companies' apparent inability to finalize tentative labor deals with the auto workers.
"Tonight for the first time in our history we will strike all three of the big three at once,” Fain declared. He pinpointed three major assembly plants that would be affected: a GM plant located in Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis facility in Toledo; and a Ford plant nestled in Wayne, Michigan.
It's essential to understand the magnitude of this potential action. Even with only three local unions actively striking, the repercussions could be monumental. It might lead to a halt in production across General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis—the latter of which oversees the production of popular brands like Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and Chrysler for the North American market.
"Everything is on the table,” Fain warned during the Facebook event.
Negotiations Hit a Roadblock
While discussions between the union and automakers continued fervently, they struggled to find common ground. As of Thursday, GM extended a new offer which included a promising 20% raise, mirroring an earlier offer from Ford.
But the optimism was short-lived. Ford, later that night, expressed their disappointment in the union's approach. In a statement, the company lamented, "Unfortunately, the UAW’s counterproposal tonight showed little movement from the union’s initial demands submitted Aug.
3." Ford also highlighted the stark contrast between its labor costs compared to competitors like Tesla and Toyota, which are notably lesser as they use non-union-represented labor. Ford's CEO, Jim Farley, in an interview with CNN earlier that day, emphasized the company’s hopes of avoiding a strike. “We’d like to make history by making a historic deal, not having a historic strike,” he opined.
Adding another layer to the unfolding drama, President Joe Biden personally intervened, reaching out to both the union and the automakers. A potential strike holds political implications for him too, adding urgency to an already tense situation.