2023 could conceivably go down in economic history as a “strike year,” a year with extensive and comprehensive union strikes. In April, the Hollywood community was stricken with a comprehensive writer’s strike, an effort later joined by actors and extending to a myriad of issues including pay and AI text generation.
As the United Auto Workers union levels a strike upon three major American automobile manufacturers(General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford), corporate America and big unions are once again at war. General Motors is the parent company of GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Buick, making it one of the premier automobile manufacturers in the world. Stellantis, the result of a merger between Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group, is also a dominant force in global manufacturing. Ford, historically a very consistently successful force in the automotive industry, rounds up the pack.
Last week, the United Auto Workers union, a union that represents workers from all three companies, initiated a partial strike from select factories located in the industrial midwest including key locations in Michigan. The union chose not to mobilize all of its nearly half-million workforce in order to retain leverage on the bargaining table. By pulling out only select locations(over 15,000 members are reportedly on strike as of today) at a time with the option of pulling out more, the union hopes to bring about more favorable terms at the negotiating table.
The union announced today that it is in the process of ordering yet another series of factory walkouts for both GM and Stellantis plants, while Ford strikes are temporarily unchanged due to significant progress made on the negotiating table. While numbers vary by the company, auto workers are demanding shorter work weeks, higher pay, and more benefits. While the companies have compromised on some requests, many of its offerings fall short of the union’s petitions.
The United Auto Workers are likely attempting to make an example of Ford Motor for the other two companies and prodding them closer to the negotiating table. Federal law prohibits private companies from firing employees for going on strike, resulting in an uneasy balance between labor shortage and wage shortage between the two groups.
President Biden has announced that he will visit picket lines soon to spur on strikers. As an industry that makes up roughly 3% of the United States economy, our nation has a vested interest in returning the strikers back to work under a compromise and allowing America’s industrial capacity to further fuel our prosperity.