The union of employees of the three major American automobile manufacturers announced the start of a strike in three factories from Friday September 15 at midnight (6 a.m. Paris time), in the absence of an agreement reached with these companies for the new collective agreements.
“The strike begins in the three designated factories”, declared the United Auto Workers (UAW), which had announced earlier that it had chosen three factories – one from each of the three groups General Motors, Stellantis and Ford – to launch this movement, urging union members at other sites to be ready according to the evolution of the negotiations. The three sites concerned are embly plants: in Wentzville (Missouri) for GM, in Toledo (Ohio) for Stellantis, and in Wayne (Michigan) for Ford. They total approximately 12,700 UAW union members.
In two months of negotiations, representatives of the United Auto Workers and the leaders of the “Big Three” – General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which controls the American Chrysler – were unable to find common ground. The UAW, which represents some 146,000 employees of the trio in the United States, is demanding a wage increase of 36% over four years, while the three American manufacturers have not gone further than 20% (Ford), according to the union leader.
The three historic giants of Detroit also refused to grant additional days of leave and to increase pensions, provided by funds specific to each company.
Joe Biden in a delicate situation
The consulting firm Anderson Economic Group (AEG) estimates that a ten-day strike could represent more than $5 billion (4.69 billion euros) in lost revenue for the American economy. The last strike in the sector dates back to 2019 – it only affected GM and lasted six weeks.
“Consumers and dealers are generally relatively protected from the effects of a short strike”, explained AEG vice-president Tyler Theile. But with inventories a fifth of what the industry had in 2019, during the last strike at GM, they “could be affected much more quickly” that four years ago, according to him.
“We are entering the fourth quarter, a period during which we see the most sales of pick-ups and large SUVs, which are very profitable for these three manufacturersrecalls Jessica Caldwell, of the specialized site Edmunds.com. If they don’t have enough in stock, they’ll miss out on sales. »
Furthermore, a prolonged social conflict could have political consequences for President Joe Biden, whose economic record is criticized, in particular due to the stubborn inflation established in the United States. A little over a year before the presidential election, the head of state is walking on eggshells, between his stated support for unions and the specter of a blow to the American economy through a strike.
The World with AFP