Early on Friday morning, a union representing around 150,000 autoworkers went on strike against the Big 3 American manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.
Before the union’s deadline of Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET, the United Auto Workers, or UAW, and the automakers were unable to come to a contract deal. The plants where union members would go on strike if a tentative agreement couldn’t be reached in time were revealed by UAW president Shawn Fain less than two hours before the deadline. By Friday at midnight, there were roughly 12,700 union workers, including those at the GM facility in Wentzville, Missouri; Stellantis in Toledo, Ohio; and the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan.
The union is engaging in a “stand-up” strike, in which not every union member strikes simultaneously.
Fain emailed the UAW’s mailing list shortly after the strike was declared.
His note stated, “Thousands of UAW members at Ford, GM, and Stellantis walked out only moments ago, officially kicking off the Stand Up Strike.
“This conflict is the turning point for our generation. Not just at the Big Three, but throughout the entire working class,” he continued, adding, “We will stand up for ourselves. We’ll speak out on behalf of our families. We’ll defend our neighborhoods.
A Stellantis spokeswoman expressed the company’s disappointment in not reaching an agreement in a statement that was published as the strike got underway.
“The UAW leadership’s failure to act responsibly in order to negotiate a fair agreement in the best interests of our members, their families, and our clients deeply disappoints us. We immediately put the company into emergency mode, and we will make the necessary structural choices to safeguard both the company and our North American activities.
The UAW and the employers were at odds earlier in the day on Thursday on important issues like pay raises and the length of the workday.
In addition to a 32-hour workday at 40-hour compensation, the union wanted a cumulative 46% pay increase over the course of a new contract’s four-year lifespan.
On Thursday, General Motors and Ford presented offers that would provide employees with a 20% pay raise throughout the course of the agreement; the most recent offer from Stellantis contains a total pay increase of 17.5%. The 40-hour workweek was kept in each company’s offer.
As the strike approached on Thursday, the Ford Motor Company issued a statement saying that the UAW’s counterproposal “showed little movement from the union’s initial demands submitted Aug. 3.”
The corporation issued a statement saying that the union “made clear that unless we agreed to its unsustainable terms, it plans a work stoppage at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.” “Ford has bargained in good faith to avoid a strike, which could have significant negative effects on our business and the economy,” the company said.
During a period of transformation, the carmaker said it “remains absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards” employees “and protects Ford’s ability to invest in the future.”