Detroit (US), Sep 22 : The near week-long US auto workers strike escalates as UAW president Shawn Fain calls on workers in 38 more plants to join the strike in 20 states across the country as negotiations on their demands make little headway.
Shawn Fain announced additional strikes as contract negotiations with big three automakers — GM, Ford and Stellantis (Chrysler) — remained elusive on economic issues, media reports said.
The UAW is demanding a wage hike of 36 to 40 per cent and a 40-hour week pay for an actual 36 hours week work.
The management of only one of the strike hit Stellantis has offered an 8 per cent wage hike but all three automakers are unyielding on the 40-hour pay demand.
The workers want a Cost of Living Adjustment a.k.a.COLA restored to adjust against inflation.
They also want the two-tier wage agreement scrapped as it discriminates against new workers joining the force, denying them of a large part of the benefits enjoyed by senior workers.
Fain announced in a live stream beamed to workers that the additional strikes at automaker plants have been called as contract negotiations with the big three automakers remain far apart on economic issues.
This is the first time workers have struck all three of the US’ largest vehicle manufacturers at the same time.This the 2nd major strike in the automobile industry after the worst one in the 20th century where millions of workers struck work paralysing the American economy.
“The companies know how to make this right,” said Fain during the live stream.
Stellantis and GM in particular are going to need some serious pushing.
“US President Joe Biden had positioned himself on the side of the labour saying auto manufacturers had made (92 per cent profits equalling $250 billion) profits and they ought share some of it with the workers who make their cars.
One of the Union leaders invited President Joe Biden to stand alongside them on the picket lines to demonstrate he was behind them and that the issue needed quick resolution for the sake of the American economy.
Large number of democrats has endorsed the President’s views on the UAW strike as Biden had their backs on the 2020 election and hopes to redeem it again in 2024.
Former President Donald Trump has sided with the auto manufacturers saying the UAW leader was sending the workers down the river.
But, Republicans support the workers on the strike.
Fain said while some real progress was made with Ford in negotiations including eliminating a lower wage tier, additional job security, conversion for all temporary workers, reinstating cost of living adjustment that was eliminated in 2009, and the right to strike over plant closures, negotiations with others were dragging.
“The world is watching, and the people are on our side.We’ve seen poll after poll come out saying the American people support what we are doing,” Fain was quoted by the UK Newspaper The Guardian as saying.
The strike is assuming a political colour as former US president Donald Trump seeks to make a speech in Detroit next week to woo UAW workers to support him for the 2024 presidency as other Republicans have thrown their lot behind the strikers despite the party’s long-term antipathy towards organized labour.
The UAW launched the strike on September 15 when 13,000 workers resorted to a “stand up” strike strategy with walkouts targeting three big plants to keep the automakers guessing.
The strike immediately hit a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan and a General Motors plant in Wentzville, Missouri.
The UAW ambush took the three auto giants by surprise and adopt the wrong strategy to anticipate work stoppage at the wrong plants, causing further disruptions, the Guardian noted.
The big three automakers swung into action in a retaliatory move with Stellantis laying off 300 workers at three plants, General Motors announcing 2,000 temporary layoffs in Kansas, and Ford resorting to 600 layoffs in Wayne, Michigan.
Autoworkers are demanding a substantial wage increase and return to economic benefits conceded during the 2008 economic recession, but that never was reinstated once the automakers returned to profitability.
The UAW has condemned the multi-billion-dollar profits raked in by the big three automakers in the past decade, including exorbitant executive salaries and billions of dollars of profits channelled into Wall Street through stock buybacks and dividends.
The automakers have equally characterized the union’s demands as unsustainable, particularly the 40 hour pay for a 32 hour week of work.
#auto #strike #threatens #spread #Joe Biden #Detroit #Toledo #Ford