Updated Sep 22, 2023 - Economy

UAW expands strike against GM and Stellantis

United Auto Workers members and supporters rally at the Stellantis North America headquarters on September 20, 2023 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

United Auto Workers members and supporters rally at the Stellantis North America headquarters on September 20, 2023 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano via Getty

The United Auto Workers union is expanding its strike against General Motors and Stellantis after failing to reach a deal one week into the work stoppage.

Why it matters: The additional work stoppages — including all 38 parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis but not additional Ford factories turns up the heat on the Detroit automakers as the union pushes for new labor deals.

  • The UAW wants wage increases and better benefits for the nearly 150,000 unionized workers at the Detroit Three, while the automakers want a contract that allows them to maintain profits and sell electric vehicles at an affordable price.

Driving the news: UAW President Shawn Fain said the company had made "serious" progress at Ford, where it won't expand the strike, but said Stellantis and GM "are going to need some serious pushing."

Catch up quick: The union last week launched an unprecedented strike against all three automakers, threatening to expand it without serious progress in negotiations. About 13,000 UAW workers — less than 1 in 10 — had been part of the initial strike, which included three plants that make small pickups and SUVs:

  • GM's plant in Wentzville, Missouri
  • Ford's factory in Wayne, Michigan
  • Stellantis' facility in Toledo, Ohio

The impact: The expanded strike includes an additional 5,600 workers. All strikers get $500 weekly from the UAW's strike fund after they've been out of work for a week.

  • The first week of the strike — which also caused GM and Stellantis to lay off workers at plants that relied on components from the shuttered factories — cost the economy $1.6 billion, Anderson Economic Group estimated Friday.

What they want: The UAW has asked for a 36% wage increase, traditional pensions, retiree health care and a 32-hour work week, among other things.

  • The automakers — which have called the union's demands untenable — have offered wage increases of about 20% to 21%, a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and some improved benefits.

What they're saying: "We're not going to wait around forever for a fair contract at the Big Three," Fain said Friday. "The companies know how to make this right. The public is on our side and the members of the UAW are ready to stand up."

  • GM president Mark Reuss, in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press this week, clapped back at what he called UAW "misinformation," saying the company has made a record offer and that "often in these situations, the clouds of rhetoric can obscure reality."
  • Ford said Friday in a statement that the company "is working diligently with the UAW to reach a deal" but there are "significant gaps to close on the key economic issues."
  • GM and Stellantis had no immediate comment Friday.

The bottom line: The stakes are escalating.

Go deeper: UAW strike plays out like slow-motion car wreck for Detroit automakers

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the strike and comment from Ford.

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