The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has rejected an offer from one of the Big Three automakers for a 21% wage increase. Autoworkers for Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler parent company Stellantis went on strike on Friday, demanding a four-day work week, substantial pay raises, more paid time off, and pension benefits.
UAW president Shawn Fain stated that the union’s demands are just and that they are asking for their fair share in the economy. Chrysler parent Stellantis had offered a cumulative 21% wage increase, with an immediate 10% increase upon a formal agreement. However, Fain revealed that the union has requested 40% pay increases to match the average pay increases of the CEOs at the three companies in recent years.
Fain expressed that autoworkers are tired of falling behind and emphasized that while the companies have seen massive profits in the last decade, the workers have gone backwards in terms of wages and benefits. He stated that the majority of the UAW members have zero retirement security.
When asked about potential strikes at other plants, Fain confirmed that the membership is prepared to do whatever is necessary because they are fed up with falling behind. Fain also addressed the argument that automakers should invest more in union workers despite the lower labor costs of competitors like Tesla and Toyota. He pointed out that labor costs make up only about 5% of the vehicle cost, and companies could increase wages without affecting vehicle prices and still make billions in profits.
President Biden, who has expressed his support for unions, stated that companies should offer more to ensure that record corporate profits translate into record contracts. Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and senior adviser Gene Sperling have been sent to Detroit to support the negotiations between the union and the companies.
– CBS News: United Auto Workers Reject Offer for 21% Wage Increase, Demand Fair Share
– CBS News: UAW president Shawn Fain on “Face the Nation,” 9/17/2023
– CBS News: Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell says she doesn’t think White House should intervene in Big 3 talks