L’UAW (United Auto Workers), the union of auto industry workers in the United States, is on strike. The three main American manufacturers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) are affected with 12,700 employees on strike at the moment.
UAW calls for wage increase
If this strike does not specifically concern electric vehicles, it paralyzes the entire industry on American soil. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are directly affected. The factories targeted by the union movement are: the GM site in Wentzville, Missouri, the Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan and the Stellantis complex in Toledo, Ohio. The only factory that produces an electrified model is Stellantis in Ohio. This is where the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is manufactured, a plug-in hybrid with a 17.3 kWh battery.
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Shawn Fain, newly elected president of the UAW, is the spearhead of this new fight. Its aim is to gradually increase pressure on the big three manufacturers by threatening to extend the strike to other factories if the manufacturers do not respond to workers’ demands. The union is ready to make this strike last. A spokesperson specifies that $825 million has been released to pay workers during this period. This is the first time the UAW has organized a strike against all three manufacturers at the same time.
The president of the union believes that “ the strike could extend to other sites and potentially to certain lines dedicated to 100% electric models » if manufacturers do not improve their offers. If American brands have already proposed significant salary increases, they do not meet the expectations of workers. A 10% increase was first submitted. Then a second of 20%. But this is not enough : ” insufficient increases » according to the union. For their part, GM, Ford and Chrysler believe they cannot go further at the risk of being at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the competition.
146,000 workers could go on strike
Shawn Fain points out that executive compensation has increased by 40% over the past four years, while that of workers has only increased by 6%. The UAW president assures that if the union’s demands are not taken seriously, 146,000 workers are ready to go on strike. The economy being rather feverish at the moment in the United States, as at the global level, Shawn Fain believes that it “ is in everyone’s interest to end this strike quickly “. A 10-day strike could cost the US economy $5 billion ».
In the future, the development of electric vehicle production could give rise to new tensions. The fact is that their production requires less labor because electrified models have fewer parts. The union is therefore rather skeptical “ regarding the transition to electric, in particular because of the reduction in the total number of working hours required for assembly “. On this subject, Stellantis intends to reduce the vacations of American employees who manufacture electric vehicles to reduce their costs. The workers refuse to have their working conditions deteriorated.
Electric car: in Germany, Volkswagen will lay off workers due to low demand
The union is fighting so that workers in the automobile industry do not suffer the full brunt of this transition to electric. The president of the UAW remains hopeful and assures that the price of electric vehicles “ can be reduced without jeopardizing workers’ benefits “. He is pointing out that ” the transition to electric vehicles does not have to be a race to the bottom. Unfortunately, Stellantis is taking a low-level approach, which has resulted in the closure of several factories “. In Europe, Volkswagen has already started laying off workers at its factory in Zwickau.
The German brand recently announced the dismissal of 269 employees. The fate of 2,000 other temporary jobs is still uncertain due to lack of sufficient sales. A ” national workforce » in the automobile industry which is at the heart of the IRA law (Inflation Reduction Act) promulgated by Joe Biden. The text provides a tax credit of $7,500 for the purchase of a new electric vehicle manufactured in the United States. The unions would have liked this tax credit to be activated only for factories in which the UAW has a presence. But this is not the case.
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