UAW mulls target company in negotiations
The United Auto Workers union is approaching a crucial moment in its contentious contract negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers — deciding whether to zero in on one company and, if so, which one.
Why it matters: UAW negotiators are working with all three companies now. The union usually targets a single company around Labor Day to set the bar for possible deals with the other two. If a deal isn't reached, workers for the targeted company typically strike.
- The 2019 strike against General Motors — the target in the last round of contract talks — cost the company $4 billion.
- But all three automakers could face a strike if a target isn't selected when contracts expire Sept. 14. It's historically a rare move that is now a distinct possibility the UAW has contemplated.
Driving the news: UAW President Shawn Fain's literal trashing of Stellantis' latest proposal Tuesday raised speculation it could be the target company.
- Fain singled out the Jeep maker as the most profitable of the three, which often drives the decision of which company to target.
- "Stellantis' proposals are a slap in the face," said Fain, who then threw its proposal into an office trash bin.
What they're saying: "If you're really looking for clues about who [Fain's] likely to pick, you keep coming back to Stellantis," U of M business professor Erik Gordon tells Axios.
- "He has poked a stick at Stellantis two times for every time he's poked a stick at GM or Ford."
Yes, but: The UAW is not conceding that it's leaning toward Stellantis. When contacted by Axios Wednesday, the union reiterated comments Fain made in July: "The Big Three is our strike target."
The big picture: Against the backdrop of a government-backed EV transition, the contract talks come amid surging corporate profits, plant closures and new UAW leadership that has pledged to repair the damage from a recent corruption scandal.
- Workers are seeking more security through 40% raises.
- But the Detroit Three want more financial flexibility in order to compete with Tesla, Toyota and other EV makers that don't pay union wages.
- Fain's unorthodox and aggressive style this year has cranked up the tension.
The bottom line: The UAW's target is still moving but Stellantis appears to be the front-runner.
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