Auto Worker Union Shows Overwhelming Support for Strikes at the Detroit Three

The United Auto Workers Labor Union has had quite a strained relationship with the folks at General Motors, with tensions reaching their penultimate just one year ago. At that time, GM CEO Mary Barra revealed the company’s plan to “unallocate” four US plants. This, of course, would take product assembly out of these plants and, to say the least, idle them.  As you might expect, the UAW has filed an objection to that specific move and, of course, sued the company in the process.

All this in mind, negotiations continue to intensify as some union members are growing angrier out of new—and expanding—realizations from many years of federal investigations into alleged corruption within the UAW during the contract negotiations back in 2015.  Then, very recently, federal agents recently raided the sitting president of the United Auto Workers union. 

At present, the UAW contracts with the Detroit Three (automakers) will expire at 11:59 pm, on September 14.  This could leave the union open to strike at any (or all) of the three companies, immediately. However, the UAW also has another option: to extend these existing contracts with automakers until the can decide upon and ratify new contracts among its membership. 

A strike is supported by 96 percent of members of the each of the Detroit three automakers. This is slightly lower than—but definitely in line with—negotiations from four years ago: when 97 percent of GM and Fiat Chrysler both supported a strike, as did 98 percent of the workforce at Ford Motor Company. 

Regarding the current contracts, UAW President Gary Jones responded “Mary Barra said from the outset of these talks that we will stand up as we tackle a changing industry. We are ready to stand strong for our future. We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities, and our manufacturing future.”

In a statement, General Motors said, “We look forward to having constructive discussions with the UAW on reaching an agreement that builds a strong future for our employees and our business.”

Apparently, the choice to lead with General Motors negotiations is a smart one.  GM is probably going to be the most complicated of the negotiations as the unallocated plants—and other underutilized facilities within their system—will create a major issue; one that is bigger than what other companies may experience.