Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Strike against car manufacturers in America shows little progress on the third day

New York: The United Auto Workers (UAW) union and the three major auto companies were ready to resume talks on Sunday, but they appear to be no closer to an agreement after auto workers went on strike on Friday are.

UAW chief Sean Fenn said Sunday that the union rejected a proposal to increase wages for workers at American automaker Stellantis by 21 percent.

“I don’t really want to say we’re close,” he said. “It’s a shame that companies didn’t take our advice and get into the business early.”

Instead of focusing on one company as it has in the past, the UAW is attacking one plant at a time for each automaker, enacting a strategy that preserves union funds while leaving enough room for expansion.

Fain repeatedly pointed to the 40 percent pay raises for Big 3 CEOs over the past four years, a sharp contrast to the 6 percent raises auto workers have received since their last contract in 2019.

CEO salaries have risen sharply over the decades, while rank-and-file salaries have declined. “This is definitely unacceptable. We made that clear to the companies,” Fenn said in an interview.

As the strike lasts longer, its impact will also increase. In a statement Saturday, Ford said 600 workers were laid off at its Michigan assembly plant due to production disruptions when the paint department called a strike.

Faced with the layoffs, Fenn responded that these workers would not go without income and said that this was simply a tactic by the union to negotiate lower wages. He criticized the company’s behavior and said it viewed employees as bargain hunters.

The union held talks with Ford on Saturday. A spokeswoman said it would return to the bargaining table with General Motors on Sunday and planned to speak with Stellantis on Monday.

The shares of Australian BlueScope Steel Ltd. fell to a three-month low as the ongoing UAW strike in the United States continues to impact the Australian steelmaker’s North American business.

Shares of BlueScope Steel fell as much as 3.8 percent, their lowest since June 2, and are on track for a sixth straight loss.

US President Joe Biden said he supports the union. But his climate agenda could be at odds with strikes and labor demands because it may require fewer workers.

The union reportedly negotiated significantly higher wages and new benefits with all three automakers at the same time, a departure from previous rounds of collective bargaining.

Specifically, the UAW called for protecting workers in traditional automotive jobs as companies increasingly invest in electric vehicle production.

Analysts warned that the strike, while limited for now, could be extended and pose a threat to the U.S. economy as it could cut production by thousands, increase vehicle prices and increase supply chain disruptions.

A local business group estimates that it would cost the U.S. economy about $5 billion if all 150,000 workers at the three major auto companies went on strike for at least 10 days.

Nation World News Desk
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