On Friday, thousands of workers at three of the largest US car companies went on strike. The workers are part of the United Auto Workers union, and they’re looking for better pay and job security, as car companies make the move to electric cars.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) is a large union that represents around 150,000 workers at US car-making companies. The UAW is currently talking with three of the largest car companies in the US: Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis. Stellantis makes Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram vehicles
Last Friday, the contract between the UAW and these companies expired. The two sides had not reached an agreement for a new contract, and the UAW decided to go on strike.
The UAW is striking to get a better deal for its workers. The union says its members want a 40% raise over four years. The UAW also wants shorter working hours, and better pay for new workers.
US car companies are currently trying to make a shift from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs). That involves spending huge amounts of money to build new factories and change the way they make cars. The car companies say they can’t afford to switch to electric and still give workers such a large pay increase.
Jim Farley, who leads Ford, says the UAW’s current position, “forces us to choose between going out of business and rewarding our workers.” The car companies have offered to raise the workers’ pay by about 20% over four years, instead.
But the UAW says that car companies are making billions in profits. They point out that the leaders of the companies are also making huge amounts of money. They want some of that money to go to the people who actually make the cars.
The UAW is also worried about the future of car-making. As the companies switch to making electric cars, there will be new and different kinds of jobs. The UAW wants to make sure its workers don’t get left out.
Usually, the UAW only goes on strike against one company at a time. This time, the UAW is striking against all three companies at once. But instead of having all of its workers strike, the UAW has started by only having workers at certain factories go on strike. Currently, that’s about 12,700 workers.
The UAW has set aside around $825 million to help pay workers and provide health care while they’re on strike.
Having only some workers strike is useful to the UAW in two ways. It means the strike can last longer. And if the UAW decides to put more pressure on the car makers, it can increase the number of striking workers.
The strike is already having an effect. Ford has sent hundreds of workers home, and GM says it may do the same.
The UAW and the car makers are trying to reach an agreement. But if the strike continues for long, it could drive up the cost of new cars, and put pressure on other companies that depend on car makers for business.
Did You Know…?
The car makers are also worried because they have to compete with Tesla which is owned by Elon Musk. Tesla only makes electric cars, and currently sells far more of them than any other company in the US. Tesla pays its workers much less than UAW workers make now, and the company has fought hard to keep its workers from joining a union.