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15 Sep 2023

Chris Isidore & Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN,
// La Tribune (France),

USA: Auto workers launch historic strike against General Motors, Ford & Stellantis demanding better wages & job protections; incl. co. comments

"UAW workers launch unprecedented strike against all Big Three automakers" 15 Sept. 2023

The United Auto Workers union is on strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the first time in its history that it has struck all three of America’s unionized automakers at the same time.

... The UAW’s strikes began at GM’s Wentzville Missouri, which has 3,600 UAW members on its staff; Ford’s Michigan Assemby plant in Wayne, Michigan, which will have 3,300 strikes; and Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly complex in Ohio, where 5,800 will be be on strike.

... The strike came after the automakers scoffed at the union’s ambitious demands for increased wages, benefits and job protections for its members. With all three automakers reporting record or near-record profits, the union was trying to recapture many benefits they had been forced to give up more than a decade ago when the companies were cash starved and on the brink of bankruptcy.

... “The UAW has informed GM that they are on strike at Wentzville Assembly in Missouri as of 11:59 pm. 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,” the statement read. “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 US,” GM said.

... Stellantis, meanwhile, said it has put the company in “contingency mode.” “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,” the company said in a statement.

... Ford CEO Jim Farley told CNN late Thursday that the company couldn’t afford all of the union’s demands. UAW President Shawn Fain early Friday told CNN that the Ford CEO’s claims were “a joke.”

... “Ford has bargained in good faith in an effort to avoid a strike, which could have wide-ranging consequences for our business and the economy,” said the company in a statement released two hours before the deadline. “It also impacts the very 57,000 UAW-Ford workers we are trying to reward with this contract.”

... Top on the union’s hit list of past concessions was a demand to end a lower tier of pay and benefits for workers hired since 2007.

... The UAW also demanded a return of a traditional pension plan for those workers hired since 2007 instead of just the 401(k) plan they now have, as well as retiree health care coverage that those post-2007 hires don’t receive but that more senior employees still enjoy. The union also is demanding a return of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to protect them from higher prices.

... The union also wants an end to forced overtime.

... the union is concerned that the automakers’ plans to invest tens of billions of dollars each to convert from traditional gasoline-powered cars to a lineup of all electric vehicles will cost them more jobs in the future.