How did we get here?
In response to the severe 2007 financial crisis the UAW accepted a contract that froze wages for four years.
The UAW also gave up COLA- cost-of-living adjustments that would have helped employees to keep up with inflation.
Other concessions included paying new workers less than current employees to do the same job.
In 2019, the auto manufacturers agreed to a wage tier- a system that would progressively increase pay over eight years. A tier system allows those new hires to work up to the same wages as long-term employees.
Today, the UAW advocates for a 90-day progression to the top rate, eliminating the 2007 tiered wage system.
Union demands include reinstating the COLA cost of living adjustment so that worker wages keep up with inflation.
Unease over the inevitable transition to electric vehicles also plays into union demands.
Stellantis/Chrysler closed their Belvidere, Illinois, plant due to the high cost of transitioning to electric vehicles. The closure cost 1,300 workers their jobs and had a ripple effect throughout the auto supply industry.
The UAW is seeking protections for workers when existing plants shift production to electric vehicles.
Some labor agreements have a ‘no strike, no lockout’ provision. The UAW wants a guaranteed right to strike over plant closures and compensation should a plant shut down.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain employs a ‘strategic strike’ against the automakers. The union will strike at a few work sites, adding additional sites to increase pressure on the manufacturers.
No doubt, UAW workers are encouraged by the successes of labor strikes at American Airlines, SAG/AFTRA, and UPS.
Record profits and management salaries also encourage workers to demand their fair share of compensation.
On the downside, striking workers will not have a paycheck and may not qualify for unemployment benefits. It may be a bleak Christmas.
Thanks, and a tip of the hat to https://web.archive.org/web/20220620182049/https://region9a.uaw.org/system/files/winter_2020_uaw.pdf), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71085736 for the image.
How did we get here?