9/23/23 by Colette Lauture
By Colette Lauture
Members of the United Auto Workers union walked a picket line in Massachusetts, following the expansion of their strike on Friday against the nation’s biggest carmakers. Union members walked out of 38 General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution centers in 20 states. Included is the Stellantis facility in Mansfield, where union members walked with strike signs in red shirts.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined the Massachusetts workers on Friday afternoon. Sen. Ed Markey also posted a message of “solidarity” on his social media.
According to the UAW, the new walkouts will affect 5,600 workers. This is in addition to the nearly 13,000 who started strikes last week at three Ford, GM and Stellantis assembly plants. The union said those original strikes will continue.
The union is seeking a 36% wage increase, pointing to the three companies’ recently large profits. They have offered slightly over half that amount. Other demands of the UAW include a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay, and a restoration of traditional pension plans for newer workers. The companies say they cannot afford to meet the union’s demands, as they need to invest profits in the transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.
Rather than target more production plants Friday, the UAW went after centers that distribute parts to car dealer service centers. If dealers run short of parts, this could swiftly involve consumers in the strikes. Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities said that this could also inflict quick pain on GM and Stellantis.
The UAW has also been negotiating simultaneously with Ford, GM, and Stellantis. This is instead of bargaining with one company and setting a pattern for contracts at the other two.
Car lots around the country are not yet feeling the strike’s impacts. It will likely take a few weeks before it causes a substantial shortage of new vehicles, analysts say. However, prices of cars could rise sooner if the prospect of a prolonged strike sets off panic buying.