Continuing Picketing Outside Plants in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio
United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain has rejected a 21% pay increase offered by Stellantis. As nearly 1,300 auto workers continue their third day of picketing outside three plants in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio, Fain stated in an interview on CBS Face the Nation that Stellantis’ offer is “definitely a no go.”
Fain emphasized that auto workers have been excluded from the industry’s record profit, leading to the ongoing strike and a growing divide between the two sides. However, on Sunday, the UAW did have a meeting with General Motors to discuss the situation.
According to Fain, auto maker CEOs at Ford Motor, General Motors, and Stellantis have received significant pay raises, with a staggering 40% increase over the past four years. He argues that workers should also be granted pay boosts.
Upon announcing their offer, Stellantis stated: “Our goal is to secure a sustainable future that provides all our UAW-represented employees with an opportunity to thrive in a company that will be competitive during the automotive industry’s historic transformation.”
The issue of pay disparity has caught the attention of some in Washington. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), former House Speaker, expressed her concern over CEOs earning more in a month than some workers earn in their entire lifetime, deeming it “just unjust.” She believes that the profits being rewarded would not be possible without the hard work of the workers.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) highlighted that while the head of General Motors earns $29 million annually, newly hired workers at GM make less than $17 per hour under a tiered wage system. He stated, “What you’re seeing in the automobile industry is what we’re seeing all over this economy: Greed on the top, suffering on the part of the working class, and people are tired of it,” during an interview on ABC’s This Week.
The Impact of Electric Vehicle Push on Auto Workers
Former Vice President Mike Pence has expressed concern over the Biden administration’s push to encourage electric vehicles, stating that it is causing anxiety among auto workers. He believes that the issue of pay disparities between auto company CEOs and rank-and-file union workers should be decided by shareholders, rather than through government mandates or bullying.
Strike Action Across the Industry
Currently, workers at General Motors’ Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, Stellantis’ Jeep assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio, and select departments in Ford’s assembly plant near Detroit have gone on strike. The United Auto Workers (UAW) is demanding a 36% wage increase over four years, cost of living adjustments, a reduced 32-hour workweek, and medical benefits for retirees. On the other hand, the auto makers have offered a 20% wage increase along with additional benefits that vary by company.
The Impact on Prices and Profits
Contrary to some analysts’ projections that a prolonged labor strike could raise auto prices for consumers, industry representative Fain argues that labor costs make up only 5% of the total cost of making a vehicle. Therefore, even if wages were doubled, it would not significantly affect car prices, as automakers have been making substantial profits. In fact, they have amassed a quarter of a trillion dollars over the past decade, including a staggering $21 billion in the first six months of this year.
The Future of the Auto Industry
The outcome of the UAW’s contract negotiations is crucial for the future of the auto industry, particularly in Michigan. Representative Debbie Dingell emphasizes that these negotiations will determine the path the industry takes in the state.
Solidarity with Striking Workers
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries plans to travel to Detroit to personally show his support for the striking workers. He believes in standing with them and hopes the strike can be resolved as quickly as possible.
It is evident that the fate of the auto industry hangs in the balance, with key stakeholders, including politicians and industry leaders, closely watching these developments.