The United Automobile Workers Union, per its president Shawn Fain, is threatening to strike the three automakers GM, Ford, and Stellantis (nee Chrysler) simultaneously after midnight Thursday (as I write Thursday midday). The union is demanding
- 36% pay raises over the next four years
- raises to correspond to the cost of living
- an end to tiered-wages for factory jobs
- a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay
- pension increases
Some of those would seem legitimate, or at least open to discussion, and typical union wants that most employers could find some sort of agreement on. The pay raise demand is egregious, and the demand to be paid for hours not worked is simply greedy, glorified featherbedding.
Furthermore, the strike is a direct attack on the companies’ ability to function at all: by the design and purpose of the strike, it closes the businesses and prevents it from earning any revenue. From that, it closely approaches extortion. In the present case, the UAW plans to maximize the damage they intend to inflict with what Fain is calling a “Stand Up Strike:”
“…keep the companies guessing as to where and when the next local walkout would be,” Fain said.
The car companies need to stand tall and refuse to negotiate as long as the union holds this metaphorical gun to their heads.
Aside from that, in a world where unions weren’t given special considerations—they’re even exempt from antitrust law, even though they have a monopoly on workforces in union shops and in unionized industries like the auto manufacturing of Michigan—such overt attacks would invalidate any contract to which management is coerced into agreeing.
Update: The UAW has, indeed, struck all three automakers, one major plant each. The union has shut down GM’s Wentzville, MO, plant, a 4.25 million sq-ft facility that was producing mid-size trucks and full-size vans under the GMC and Chevrolet brands; Stellantis’ Toledo, OH, 3.64 million sq-ft facility that was producing Jeep Wranglers and Jeep Gladiators; and Ford’s Wayne, MI, 5 million sq-ft facility that was producing Rangers and Broncos.