UAW expands strike to parts distribution centers
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has announced that it will expand its strike action against General Motors (GM) and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, to include 38 parts distribution centers across the United States. The union said that by targeting these facilities, it would turn the strike into a nationwide event and impact consumers trying to get repair parts.
The UAW has been in a standoff with the Detroit automakers since September 15, when it launched simultaneous strikes at one assembly plant each of the Detroit Three. The union is demanding better pay, benefits, and job security for its members, as well as an end to price gouging by the companies.
The union said that GM and Stellantis have shown little progress in the negotiations, and need some serious pushing to reach a fair deal. The union also threatened more action at Stellantis’s critical parts plants in Kokomo, Indiana, and invited President Joe Biden to join the picket lines.
Ford shows signs of progress
The UAW said that it has made real progress in talks with Ford Motor, the third of the Detroit automakers. The union said that Ford has improved its contract offer, including boosting profit sharing, allowing workers to strike over plant closures, and converting temporary employees to full-time status upon ratification of a deal.
The union said that it still has serious issues with Ford, but recognized that the company is showing that it is serious about reaching a deal. Ford said that it is continuing to negotiate, and that it has more work ahead of it before it can reach an agreement.
Ford shares gained 3.7% on Friday, while GM shares were up 0.8%, the latter paring earlier gains following the news of the wider strike.
Economic and political implications
The strike action by the UAW is fueling worries about prolonged industrial action that could disrupt production and ripple through the supply chain and dent U.S. economic growth. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday shows significant support by Americans for the striking auto workers.
The strike has also become a focus of attention for Biden and Republican candidates who want to replace him. Biden has been vocal in his support for the union’s demands, and the UAW has extended an invitation to him to visit the picket lines. Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a new term, will be in Michigan next week to address autoworkers about the strike.
GM, Ford and Stellantis have said they are making contingency plans for further U.S. work stoppages. Ford reached a last-minute deal to avoid a walkout at its Canadian operations late on Tuesday.