By MATTHEW ASHE
CHATTANOOGA (mocsnews.com) The United Auto Worker’s strike continues this week as auto workers across the Northeastern United States unionize against ‘The Big Three’. General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis are the leading automotive manufacturers in America; the automotive industry accounts for three percent of the United States’ gross domestic product.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack meets with men and women of United Auto Workers Local 450
Auto Workers on strike
The root of the problem facing The Big Three today, and the reason for the strike, began in the early 2000s, when the economy began to decline, leading to a substantial decrease in automotive sales. In turn, this led to a greater emphasis on foreign brands, due to the quality of cars being produced by American manufacturers. To cope with this recession, the United Auto Workers came up with a deal to help their parent companies get back on their feet; While many factories were shut down, the workers agreed to reduced wages in exchange for guaranteed health benefits and pension packages for their older workers, many of whom were retired early.
Today, as auto sales have increased and the economy benefits these manufacturers, the workers are left with the short end of the stick; upholding their concessions, while the CEOs of all three companies receive millions of dollars in compensation. Essentially, the United Auto Workers Union is asking for the same compensation afforded to the company’s years before, and their demands are quite drastic. The UAW union demands a 36% pay increase over four years, more defined benefit pensions, abolition of tiered wages which pit factory workers against each other, and finally a reduced work week to a 32-hour week.
Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
The Union’s demands are described as “audacious” even by the Union President Shawn Fain, who’s been the party’s vocal combatant. Currently the Automakers have negotiated twenty percent pay increases, as they prepare to shift toward electric engines.
The effects of the strike run deep into the American economy that has billions of dollars to lose in labor. Even the Biden Administration will be tested as a “pro-union president”