There was a time when the Big 3 autoworkers were considered the benchmark for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Generous living wages and lifelong benefits were the norm of America’s working class in Detroit. However, this reality has seen a significant shift with increased production, industry-changing technology, and the rising cost of living.
This month, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union successfully locked in a provisional agreement with General Motors (GM), marking a significant development following its recent settlements with Ford and Stellantis, the latter of which is Chrysler’s parent company.
This breakthrough includes several substantial demands made by the UAW, with one clause serving to unionize workers at EV battery production facilities – regardless of whether the automobile manufacturers fully own these plants.
This is what you need to know about the UAW strike and its impact on EV battery workers.
2023 United Auto Workers Strike
The United Auto Workers (UAW) initiated a strike on September 15, 2023, in response to their expired contract. Under the leadership of President, Shawn Fain, who is in favor of ending concessions and adopting a more rigid approach during negotiations, workers set out to reclaim some of the benefits that had been lost in the past contracts.
Demands in the six-week-long strike include fairer wages, eliminating a multi-tiered system that leaves workers with lower wages and less job security, and ensuring they have a say in the transition to electric vehicles.
What Fueled the Strike
The tinder for the ultimate strike lies in high demand, low pay, and future leaving increasing towards electrification. A potential strike has been brewing since the aftermath of the pandemic, which saw long hours to catch up on production quotas without receiving adequate compensation.
Experts say the historic strike is about more than a single contract and rather represents years of backlogged demand and a surge of frustrations from the American working class.
Workers note that while the demand has increased, so has the cost of living. The 50,000 striking members of the UAW say that their pay has stagnated even as the profits of Detroit’s Big 3 car companies have increased. Autoworkers also want to get ahead of the looming full transition to eclectic vehicles.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union sought a 46% wage hike, a condensed work week of four days with overtime compensation for any hours worked beyond 32 hours, and union representation at newly established electric battery factories.
The UAW Strike was officially tabled on October 30th, 2023, with negotiations settling on a new 4.5-year contract, 11% wage increases (and up to 25% throughout the contract), and provisions that will clear a path to the unionization of workers at battery manufacturing plants.
A Win for EV Battery Workers
As part of the settlement, GM negotiated a deal to introduce unionization in battery production throughout GM’s electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plants. The union has celebrated this agreement as an assurance that the shift to EVs at GM will be a fair transition that delivers quality union jobs to communities all over the United States.
GM’s commitment to unionizing its electric vehicle (EV) and battery operations follows a quarter during which automakers sold 300,000 EVs. This has led all parties in the labor dispute to believe that the shift towards electrification is virtually unavoidable. While electric vehicles currently account for just eight percent of new car and truck sales in the United States, their market share is rapidly expanding due to the influx of new models and government mandates to decarbonize.
The strike intensified the demand on the Big Three to incorporate their electrification initiatives into their overarching contracts with the United Auto Workers (UAW). This could prompt other automotive manufacturers to raise wages or consent to unionization as a strategy to attract talent.
The agreed-upon pay raises will be powered by hefty federal investments in EV manufacturing, with the UAW’s president, Shawn Fain, saying the union refused “to pick between good jobs and green jobs.”
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By evee Life Contributor
Published November 27, 2023 3:59PM
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