UAW turns down a 21 percent pay raise, holding out for 40.
United Auto Workers (UAW) at the "Big Three" automakers GM, Ford, and Stellantis have been on targeted strike
since negotiations blew past the Sept. 15 deadline.
On Sunday, UAW president Shawn Fain revealed that Stellantis offered a 21 percent pay raise on Saturday, which the union rejected.
“It’s definitely a no go,” Mr. Fain told CBS. “And we’ve made that very clear to the companies.”
Stellantis, which had referred to the 21 percent hike as "highly competitive," said in an overview
of its Sept. 14 offer that its proposal was designed to "secure a sustainable future that provides all our UAW-represented employees with an opportunity to thrive in a company that will be competitive during the automotive industry’s historic transformation."
"Decisions made during this process will either enable our workers and our Company to thrive or will take us backward and endanger the long-term competitiveness of our Company, negatively impacting our workers and our communities," the company added amid the negotiations.
Mr. Fain defended the union's demand of a 40 percent pay raise.
"The reason we asked for 40 percent pay increases is because in the last four years alone, the CEO pay went up 40 percent. They’re already millionaires,” he said, additionally criticizing one of the corporation heads for not negotiating personally.
"Our demands are just," he argued. "We’re asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor."
In addition to the pay raises, the unions are also demanding an end to wage tiers for factory jobs, a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay, and the expansion of pension benefits.
There has been pushback on the 40 percent figure.
“I don’t know where the 40 percent came from,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra at a new conference.
White House Support
Experts who have
been observing the UAW and other labor negotiations are not surprised
that this season has turned into a "summer of strikes."
President Joe Biden, who has called himself the most "pro-union" president in American history, has emboldened unions with pro-unionizing rules
and labor personnel in his administration. Teamsters president Sean O'Brien had openly told the Biden administration to stay out of negotiations when they threatened UPS with a strike earlier this summer, and the administration had obliged.
Upon the announcement of a strike where thousands of workers walked off the job at three major automakers, President Biden said
it was time for the workers to get their fair share, echoing union rhetoric.
"Auto companies have seen record profits including the last few years because of the extraordinary skill and sacrifices of the UAW workers,” he said at the White House.
“Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with the workers.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also said Biden administration policies have naturally led to the strike.
“The UAW strike and indeed the ‘summer of strikes’ is the natural result of the Biden administration’s ‘whole of government’ approach to promoting unionization at all costs,” Chamber President Suzanne Clark said in a statement.
Notably, the UAW has held out on endorsing President Biden as he makes his bid for reelection. The union endorsed him when he ran in 2020, but the president's electric vehicle policies have created tension. Auto industry union workers are concerned the push for electric vehicle manufacturing may create fewer jobs, or fewer union jobs.
It's led former President Donald Trump, the president's main political rival for the 2024 race, to court autoworkers as the two spar over economic policy in public statements.
However, in a recent interview
with NBC's Kristen Welker, President Trump singled out Mr. Fain as well.
"I don’t know the gentleman, but I know his name very well, and I think he’s not doing a good job in representing his union, because he’s not going to have a union in three years from now. Those jobs are all going to be gone, because all of those electric cars are going to be made in China," he said.
"If you take a look at what they’re doing with electric cars, electric cars are going to be made in China," he said. "The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump."
"You’ve got to have choice, like in school. I want school choice. I also want choice for cars. If somebody wants gasoline, if somebody wants all electric, they can do whatever they want," he added.
Talks continued on Saturday at all three companies after targeted strikes were initiated on Friday.
Though negotiations at Stellantis seem to have been deadlocked, negotiators with the union and Ford said
talks have been "reasonably productive."
Previously, Ford CEO Jim Farley had rejected the 40 percent wage hike demand ahead of strikes as unworkable.
"You want us to choose bankruptcy over supporting our workers," he said
on CNBC. He had also claimed the unions gave no counteroffer after Ford rejected the 40 percent figure. "Nothing is going on," he said in terms of their efforts to negotiate.
this would come out to average $300,000 pay for a four day workweek for each UAW employee, and the company would have lost $15 billion over the last decade. However, job posts indicate a Ford factory line worker would make between $16 and $36 per hour, which would be far from the projected $300,000 figure with a 40 percent raise.
Update: This article has been updated to include comments from Stellantis.