The United Auto Workers has voted to authorize a strike against General Motors Co., Ford Co., and Stellantis Corp. if an agreement is not met by mid-September. The votes are still being counted, but according to a union statement on August 25, an average of 97% of workers voted to strike against each company.
The strike vote authorizes UAW leadership to declare a strike if negotiations fail to come up with new contracts by September 14, but does not mean a strike is inevitable. Despite that, the Detroit Free Press reported that GM and Stellantis have both moved to increase inventory by about 8% over the past two months—possibly in preparation for a work stoppage.
Shawn Fain, President of the UAW, said in Friday’s announcement that union members are frustrated. “Our union’s membership is clearly fed up with living paycheck-to-paycheck while the corporate elite and billionaire class continue to make out like bandits,” he said.
Fain was elected union president in March after campaigning on promises to negotiate aggressively with the Big Three and has maintained a combative stance since negotiations began in July.
Fain revealed a series of demands from the union via a live address on Facebook in early August. The list includes an elimination of wage tiers, higher wages, restored cost-of-living adjustments, the right for union members to strike over plant closures, limits on temporary workers, and more benefits for retirees, including reestablished medical benefits.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Fain is breaking UAW precedence. Previously, the union established demands behind closed doors. In another departure from previous tactics, Fain also said the union would not seek first to establish a contract with one automaker and then model contracts with the others after it.
Results of the strike authorization votes varied only slightly between the three Detroit automakers. At General Motors, 96% of workers voted to authorize a strike; at Stellantis, 95%. The company with the highest rates for strike authorization was Ford, where 98% of hourly represented workers and a full 99% of salaried UAW workers voted to strike, according to the union.