Historic strike launched by UAW against Big Three automakers

Sept. 15, 2023
Picketing will begin at a General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan; and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.

In a historic move, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have launched simultaneous strikes against General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.

According to the Associated Press, not all 146,000 members of the UAW union will be walking the picket lines. Picketing will begin at a General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan; and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.

The New York Times explains that the three plants designated for walkouts represent only a small portion of all the unionized factories, but these sites produce some of the most popular and profitable vehicles for the Big Three. Approximately 3,600 union members work at the GM plant, with 5,800 employed at the Stellantis plant, and 3,300 at the Ford plant. If an agreement is not reached, however, the scope of the walkouts could increase.

Reuters is reporting that the UAW has an $825 million strike fund, and the union is hoping that this targeted walkout approach will help limit the cost of the strike. Stellantis claims to have more than 90 days worth of Jeeps in stock, but a week-long shutdown could cut revenue by more than $380 million.

An analysis conducted by Anderson Economic Group estimates that if all UAW members went on a 10-day strike, it could result in a $5 billion loss for the U.S. economy. In a recent article, AEG explains, “UAW leadership has repeatedly stated that it’s prepared to strike against all three automakers. If that were to happen, a 10-day strike would result in total wage losses of $859 million and manufacturer losses of $989 million. If only one automaker suffered a strike-related shutdown (Ford, for example), it could cause $665 million in losses during that period. In this scenario, AEG estimates a $341 million loss in direct wages and $325 million in company-wide losses.”

Stellantis released a statement, saying, "We are extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership's refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement in the best interest of our employees, their families and our customers. We immediately put the Company in contingency mode and will take all the appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the Company."

GM also released a statement that read, "We are disappointed by the UAW leadership's actions, despite the unprecedented economic package GM put on the table, including historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible for the benefit of our team members, customers, suppliers and communities across the U.S. In the meantime, our priority is the safety of our workforce.”

In a statement, the UAW said, “This fight is our generation’s defining moment. Not just at the Big Three, but across the entire working class. We will stand up for ourselves. We will stand up for our families. We will stand up for our communities.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler added, “This fight isn’t just about autoworkers and their families, this is about creating a future where everyone can prosper. Gone are the days of corporations running roughshod over workers with impunity. We’re fed up and ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure companies give us the basic respect on the job we deserve, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”