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United Auto Workers on strike for share of profits

15 September, 2023Today members of IndustriALL affiliate United Auto Workers (UAW) walked out at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (the Big Three) marking the beginning of their Stand Up Strike.  UAW contracts with the Big Three expired on 14 September and practice pickets and worker preparations, across America began. Workers are saying record profits should equal record contracts.

The union is demanding a decent standard of living, wages that grow with inflation, dignified retirement, worker protection and fighting against plant closures. UAW says that the corporations can easily meet their demands because their combined profit over the last 10 years has been a $1/4 trillion, a combined bottom line profit of $21 billion in the first six months of 2023 and $1.25 billion federal subsidy that a battery cell plant could receive every year.

Under the 2019 agreements with automakers, the members’ wages only increased by 6%, while inflation skyrocketed by 18% during that same time. Despite massive profits for these companies, factories continue to close, jobs move and worker conditions continue to deteriorate.

This round of negotiations is the most consequential that the union has faced in decades. With the auto industry’s rapid transition to electric vehicle production the future of the industry is being decided right now.

UAW president Shawn Fain says:

“The Big Three have been busy forming joint ventures to circumvent our master agreements and their commitments to our members. Meanwhile, the United States government continues to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidizing the electrical vehicle transition with no protections for workers. I can’t stress this point enough, the transition to electronic vehicles must be a just transition, where workers’ jobs and standard of living are protected.” 

“Our members today aren’t asking for the moon. We are simply asking for our fair share. I firmly believe we are in a strong position to win a better future in this contract cycle – but only if we are organized, ready to strike, and willing to hold the line for as long as it takes. This is our generation’s defining moment. What we win will set the standard not only for our members, but for the entire working class. The Stand-Up Strike begins with all our locals, from parts distribution centers to assembly plants maintaining a constant strike-readiness. Then, based on what is happening in bargaining, I will announce more locals that are being called to stand up and strike. This is our time to fight; for our families, for our communities, and for working people everywhere.”

Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary says,

“IndustriALL congratulates UAW on their courage and resolve in standing up for their members. We stand in solidarity with you for a strong contract. It is imperative that Ford, General Motors and Stellantis engage in negotiations with UAW in good faith and recognize that the workers are an integral part in creating the companies’ wealth.” 

Photos: UAW website