The United Auto Workers strike is taking a significant toll on the U.S. economy as it enters its fourth week.
Consulting firm Anderson Economic Group estimates the walkout has cost $5.5 billion so far, $1 billion more than the General Motors strike in 2019. The latest total includes a $2.6 billion hit to Detroit’s Big Three automakers (Ford, GM, and Stellantis), more than $1.2 billion in losses for dealers and customers, a $1.6 billion hit to suppliers, and nearly $580 million in lost wages.
The report also shows about 30% of auto suppliers have laid off employees because the strike has made it difficult for facilities to obtain car parts.
Most recently, Ford and GM announced last week they are indefinitely furloughing an additional 500 workers at four Midwestern plants. The move comes after Stellantis temporarily laid off 68 workers at a plant in Ohio last month and announced plans to furlough an estimated 300 more employees at two factories in Indiana.
However, after expanding its labor strike for two consecutive weeks, UAW President Shawn Fain announced Friday that Detroit’s Big Three automakers have staved off even more walkouts after a “major breakthrough” in negotiations.
“We were about to shut down GM’s largest moneymaker in Arlington, Texas. The company knew those members were ready to walk immediately, and just that threat has provided a transformative win,” Fain said. “GM has now agreed, in writing, to place their electric battery manufacturing under our national master agreement. We’ve been told for months this is impossible.”
In addition to GM allowing the UAW to unionize electric vehicle battery plants, Fain said all three automakers — GM, Ford, and Stellantis — have also made “big strides” in wage progression, but that there’s still progress to be made.
The UAW has been demanding double-digit pay increases for all workers, the elimination of its tiered wage system, more paid time off, and a four-day work week while still getting 40 hours of pay, among other things. Fain said more than 25,000 workers have already walked off the job and has threatened expanding the strike even further if significant progress is not made at the negotiating table.