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UAW strike enters critical phase as talks with automakers continue on second day

Members of the UAW (United Auto Workers) picket and hold signs outside of the UAW Local 900 headquarters across the street from the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan on September 15, 2023. AFP 

Negotiations between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and leading US automakers—General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis—are in a critical phase as the UAW strike enters its second day. 

Approximately 12,700 UAW members are participating in this coordinated labour action, which has targeted assembly plants affiliated with the Detroit Three automakers. These talks resumed after the UAW initiated one of the most substantial industrial labour strikes in the US in decades.

Despite the ongoing discussions, there has been no discernible sign of a breakthrough in negotiations. Notably, the UAW’s assessment of the discussions with Ford carries a slightly more optimistic tone than their initial characterisation of progress prior to the UAW strike’s commencement. 

Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, had previously expressed concerns, suggesting that the UAW’s proposals might steer the company towards bankruptcy. Nonetheless, Mark Truby, Ford’s chief communications officer, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement that addresses the welfare of both workers and the company’s future investments.

Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, has recently unveiled an offer that entails salary increases of 20% over a four-and-a-half-year contract term, including an immediate 10% raise, aligning with proposals from GM and Ford. 

Discussions with Stellantis are scheduled to resume on Monday. However, these offers remain significantly below the UAW’s demand for a 40% wage increase by 2027, which includes an immediate 20% rise.

The UAW strike has caused interruptions in production at critical plants, affecting prominent models such as the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Colorado, and others. 

Automakers argue the necessity of cost-competitive contracts due to the substantial shift towards electric vehicles, while workers emphasise the industry’s robust profits over the past decade and the increase in CEO salaries. 

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