The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is preparing to declare strikes at some General Motors (GM), Ford and Stellantis plants just hours before the current collective bargaining agreement that covers some 150,000 US auto workers expires.
The UAW informed its delegates on Tuesday night that it will call selective strikes at some of the production plants of the three large American companies, according to CNBC.
The collective agreement expires at 11:59 pm this Thursday and the union has warned that it will call strikes if its negotiators do not reach an agreement with GM, Ford and Stellantis by that date.
Last week, General Motors’ first offer of wages and benefits to the United Auto Workers fell far short of the union’s initial demands and was called “insulting.”
However, Ford CEO Jim Farley has been optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement in the coming hours and declared to the press that his company’s offer is the most generous it has made in 80 years.
WHAT THE UNION REQUESTS
The union seeks across-the-board wage increases of 46% over four years, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, the restoration of traditional pensions for new employees, union representation of workers at new battery plants, restoration of pensions traditional and elimination of salary levels.
Workers at the UAW’s largest assembly plants earn about $32 an hour, plus annual profit-sharing checks.
GM is offering a 10% wage increase under a new four-year contract, plus two additional 3% one-time payments. It also offers a $6,000 inflation payment; $5,000 more in lump sums to protect against inflation during the contract and a $5,000 contract confirmation bonus. The company did not say when the pay increases or other benefits would take effect.
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The last time the UAW declared a general strike was four years ago, in 2019, precisely when the union was negotiating the collective agreement that expires on Thursday.
Then, the UAW declared a strike that lasted 40 days at all GM plants in the United States, costing the automaker about $3.6 billion.
A report released in mid-August put the cost to the sector of a 10-day general strike at the three American manufacturers at $45 billion.
The UAW has accumulated a fund of about $825 million to financially support its members in the event of a strike. The fund would pay each member about $500 a week during the time they are not working, according to The Detroit News.