UAW Strike Begins
Written by Scott McClallen, The Center Square
Published Sept. 15, 2023
The United Auto Workers strike began against the Big Three Automakers in Detroit as workers seek better pay and fewer working hours---a historic walkout.
UAW President Shawn Fain said members will go “all-out” if they need to in this strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors.
“Tonight, for the first time in history, we will strike all of the Big Three at once,” Fain said in a livestream video. “We are using a new strategy---the stand-up strike at select facilities.”
Fain said the new strategy will improve bargaining power. The UAW initially sought wage increases of as much as 46% over four years, cost of living adjustments, pensions and retiree health care for all workers and a 32-hour work week paid as 40 hours.
“We are committed to winning an agreement with the big three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies,” Fain said.
He called on certain local units to walk out, including at Ford Motor's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. Fain called for UAW members to rally at the UAW Ford building in downtown Detroit. The UAW represents about 146,000 workers employed by the Big Three.
This is our generation’s defining moment,” Fain said. “The money is there. The cause is righteous. The world is watching and the UAW is ready to stand up.”
In 2019, the UAW went on strike for 40 days.
Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, encouraged the groups to reach a “swift resolution” and deliver a “fair contract.”
“The auto industry is Michigan’s legacy and its future, and there is surely a path forward that ensures our workers and our economy can continue to thrive,” Tate said in a statement.
Abhi Rajendran, an adjunct scholar at The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, posted on social media that the labor struggles were one of many challenges to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions through electric vehicle expansion.
“From the beginning, the #ElectricVehicle expansion was never well thought out (especially the favorite words 'just and equitable'). Not the U.S. but also Europe are now finding out the hard way how it impacts all stakeholders #Netzero is [not gonna make it], time for reality path.
“Just another piece of evidence that these EV goals are just not going to happen,” Rajendran continued. “Along with, you know, that the vast majority of [America] just isn’t interested.”
The strike could bring financial struggles to automakers, hike consumer vehicle prices and drop state revenue depending on the length and impact.
An analysis from the Anderson Economic Group says a 10-day walkout on this scale could lead to $5 billion in lost economic activity for the auto industry.
"In 2023, there is the potential that a strike could involve more manufacturers, more workers and more plants," AEG Principal and CEO Patrick Anderson said in the report. “If that happens, even a short strike would impact economies throughout Michigan and across the nation."