Heading into this next work week, the industry may be feeling a bit more stress and worry than usual as UAW President Shawn Fain threatens to broaden his historic “stand-up strike.”
September 17, 2023 02:20 PM
Executive Editor of Automotive News
I’ve heard that there’s a term for the anxiety and dread that some people feel before the work week resumes: the “Sunday scaries.”
Heading into this next work week, the industry may be feeling a bit more stress and worry than usual as UAW President Shawn Fain threatens to broaden his historic “stand-up strike” against the Detroit 3.
Is it really historic? You bet it is. This is the first time Ford Motor Co. has faced a national strike since 1970. And it appears to be the first strike at Toledo Jeep over a national contract in more than a century of automaking and 90 years of UAW representation.
Auto dealers — especially loyal readers of Automotive News — knew that a work stoppage was a possibility, if not a likelihood. So as the UAW prepared to walk out, they mobilized their own strike plans, stockpiling inventory and replacement parts.
Suppliers were already weakened by the pandemic economy that benefited automakers and dealers, and some of the smaller ones have precious little cushion to absorb the costs of a significant strike. While some may hope for help from the Biden administration, most are weighing when they will need to resort to layoffs themselves.
You can track the latest news as it happens on our live blog.
It’s easy to forget that as recently as 1999, the Detroit 3 supplied 68 percent of the U.S. light vehicle market, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. It’s now at 40 percent. We have pulled together a lot of key statistics, profiles and analysis of key issues on a single webpage about the 2023 UAW-Detroit 3 negotiations.
One of my favorite features is a summary of what each party is offering. Or in the UAW’s case “demanding.”
The sides are seemingly still far apart. The UAW has lowered its wage-increase demands by 4 percent to 36 percent (or from 46 percent to 41 percent for those of us who insist on compounding), while the automakers are offering 20 percent nominal raises. That seems like a pretty big gap, but one that could negotiated.
The problem is all of the union’s other demands.
If UAW President Shawn Fain insists on a return of benefits that sent General Motors and Stellantis into bankruptcy — such as traditional pensions — and borderline fantasies like a four-day workweek, this dispute could drag and be extremely painful for many parties.
I believe that if Fain could surrender some of those non-starters, he could maybe win some more ground on temps or the long grow-in period that is now labeled as a separate “tier” of employment.
He’s already gotten offers that include a significant ratification bonus, an extra holiday and parental leave time that could make up an attractive agreement to send to members for a vote.
But in a Sunday morning interview, Fain sounded more inclined to halt work at more factories than to compromise and reach an agreement, saying on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart”: “Progress is slow, and I don’t really want to say we’re closer.”
We’ll all see how much closer the sides really are in the coming days. However it breaks, you’ll always get the latest news, analysis and commentary in the printed pages of Automotive News and at autonews.com.