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Thursday, June 20, 2024

US auto industry in turmoil as union workers strike at three carmakers

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Thousands of auto workers have gone on strike at three major US carmakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, after failing to reach a new contract agreement with the companies. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union said it was launching a series of limited and targeted “stand up” strikes at selected plants across the country, starting from midnight on Friday.

The union said it was seeking better wages, benefits, job security and working conditions for its members, who have seen the carmakers’ profits and executive pay soar in recent years. The UAW also wants to address the growing gap between the pay and benefits of full-time workers and temporary or contract workers, who make up a large portion of the workforce.

The strike affects some of the most profitable and popular vehicles produced by the Detroit Three, such as the Ford Bronco, the Jeep Wrangler and the Chevrolet Colorado. The union said it would escalate the strike action if the negotiations did not progress in a positive direction.

This is the first time in history that the UAW has struck all three of the nation’s unionized automakers at the same time. The last time the union went on a nationwide strike against GM was in 2019, when nearly 50,000 workers walked off the job for 40 days, costing the company an estimated $3 billion. The last time the union struck Ford was in 2007, when about 54,000 workers staged a two-day walkout. The last time the union struck Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, was in 2015, when about 40,000 workers briefly stopped work before ratifying a new contract.

The strike comes at a time when the US auto industry is facing multiple challenges, such as a global shortage of semiconductor chips, rising inflation, supply chain disruptions and competition from electric vehicle makers. The strike could further affect the production and sales of vehicles in the US market, which is already suffering from low inventory levels and high prices.

The UAW said it hoped to reach a fair and equitable agreement with the carmakers as soon as possible. The union said it was fighting for the future of its members and the industry. The carmakers said they were committed to bargaining in good faith and reaching a mutually beneficial deal that would ensure their long-term competitiveness and sustainability.

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