Autoworkers launched a historic strike on Ford, General Motors and Stellantis early Friday morning after union negotiations failed.
The United Auto Workers and the “Big Three” carmakers failed to reach an agreement before the workers’ contracts expired at midnight, triggering the first simultaneous strike by UAW workers against all three auto giants.
The economic cost of an all-out 10-day strike against all three Detroit auto giants could top $5 billion, according to an August study by the Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group.
An overwhelming majority of the UAW members at the Big Three voted last month to authorize a strike if the union and automakers failed to reach a “fair deal.”
Not all workers are slated to strike at once.
During a Facebook Live event less than two hours before the deadline, UAW President Shawn Fain called on three facilities to kick off the “stand up strike” at midnight if a deal wasn’t reached.
“This strategy will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining, and if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table,” Fain said.
The union is asking for higher wages, shorter work weeks, union representation for battery plant workers and better retirement benefits, including restored pensions for new hires.
Company profits and CEO compensation have skyrocketed, even as the union says employee wages have not kept up with inflation.
Profits at the Big Three collectively ballooned 92 percent from 2013 to 2022, totaling $250 billion, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute released Tuesday. CEO compensation swelled by 40 percent through the same period.
The union reportedly rejected counteroffers from all three automakers, which say the workers’ demands are not realistic and unaffordable.
“We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies,” Fain said in his Thursday address.