Time is running out for three major U.S. car manufacturers to reach a new labor agreement with the United Auto Workers union.
General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have until Thursday at midnight to strike a deal with the UAW before its 146,000 unionized workers are set to walk off the job. Last month, union members overwhelmingly authorized a strike against America’s “Big Three” automakers, which could cause assembly lines to shut down by Friday.
Workers are demanding more paid time off, a 32-hour workweek, a double-digit pay increase, an end to wage tiers, and the restoration of cost-of-living adjustments. UAW President Shawn Fain said if those needs aren’t met by Sept. 14, then “We gotta do what we gotta do.”
While the Biden administration has expressed optimism that a deal will be reached before Thursday’s deadline, an expert told Scripps News he is not as hopeful.
Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University who has studied labor issues, says there is a slight chance the two sides can come to an agreement, but “it’s going to be difficult for the parties” to settle their differences.
“Over the past 40 years, the top 1% have seen their real wages adjusted for inflation grow by over 200%,” Masters said. “The bottom 90% have seen their real wages grow by only 28%. That’s the reason why they have this push for higher wages. And I think it resonates across the board.”
A strike could also have major implications for the economy. According to a recent analysis by Anderson Economic Group, a potential UAW work stoppage could cost the “Big Three” more than $5 billion in just 10 days. The UAW reportedly has $825 million in its strike fund and has raised strike pay to $500 per week.