Sunday, October 1, 2023

In the United States, the automobile industry is paralyzed by a massive strike

The UAW (United Auto Workers), the United States auto workers union, is on strike. The three main American manufacturers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) are affected, with 12,700 employees currently on strike.

UAW asks for salary increase

If this strike does not specifically affect electric vehicles, it paralyzes the entire industry on American soil. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are directly affected. The factories targeted by the union movement are: the GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri, the Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, and the Stellantis complex in Toledo, Ohio. The only factory that produces an electrified model is Stellantis in Ohio. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe, a plug-in hybrid with a 17.3 kWh battery, is manufactured here.

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Shawn Fain, newly elected president of the UAW, leads this new fight. His goal is to gradually increase pressure on the big three manufacturers, threatening to extend the strike to other factories if the manufacturers do not respond to the workers’ demands. The union is willing to make this strike last. A spokesperson specifies that $825 million has been released to pay workers during this period. This is the first time the UAW has organized a strike against all three manufacturers at the same time.

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The president of the union considers that “ The strike could extend to other sites and potentially to certain lines dedicated to 100% electric models. » if manufacturers do not improve their offers. If American brands have already proposed significant salary increases, they do not meet workers’ expectations. Firstly, there was an increase of 10%. Then a second of 20%. But this is not enough : ” insufficient increases » according to the union. For their part, GM, Ford and Chrysler believe they cannot go further, at the risk of being at a disadvantage compared to the competition.

146,000 workers could go on strike

Shawn Fain points out that executive compensation has increased 40% in the last four years, while worker compensation has only increased 6%. The president of the UAW assures that if the union’s demands are not taken seriously, 146,000 workers are willing to go on strike. Given that the economy is currently quite feverish both in the United States and globally, Shawn Fain believes that “ It is in everyone’s interest to quickly end this strike. “. A 10-day strike could cost the US economy $5 billion ».

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In the future, the development of electric vehicle production could lead to new tensions. The fact is that their production requires less labor because electrified models have fewer parts. The union is therefore quite skeptical “ in connection with the transition to electricity, in particular due to the reduction in the total number of working hours required for assembly “. In this sense, Stellantis intends to reduce the vacations of American employees who manufacture electric vehicles to reduce their costs. The workers refuse to let their working conditions deteriorate.

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The union fights so that workers in the automobile industry do not suffer the full weight of this transition to electric. The president of the UAW maintains hope and assures that the price of electric vehicles “ can be reduced without jeopardizing workers’ benefits “. He is pointing out that ” The transition to electric vehicles doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom. Unfortunately, Stellantis is taking a low-key approach, which has caused several factories to close. “. In Europe, Volkswagen has already started laying off workers at its Zwickau factory.

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The German brand recently announced the layoffs of 269 employees. The fate of another 2,000 temporary jobs is still uncertain due to a lack of sufficient sales. TO ” national workforce » in the automobile industry, which is at the center of the IRA law (Inflation Reduction Act) signed into law by Joe Biden. The text provides for a tax credit of $7,500 for the purchase of a new electric vehicle manufactured in the United States. The unions would have liked this tax credit to be activated only for factories where the UAW has a presence. But is not the case.

Times of National
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