(NEW YORK) — The union representing approximately 150,000 workers at the Big Three U.S. automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — has voted to authorize a strike if no deal is reached amid ongoing contract negotiations.
Across the three companies, United Auto Workers union members voted a combined average of 97% in favor of a strike authorization, with votes still being tallied, the union said Friday. The vote does not mean a strike will be called, but that the union has the right to call one if they see fit.
“Our union’s membership is clearly fed up with living paycheck-to-paycheck while the corporate elite and billionaire class continue to make out like bandits,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement. “The Big Three have been breaking the bank while we have been breaking our backs.”
The union’s demands include double-digit pay raises, eliminating tiered wages and benefits, restoring cost-of-living allowances, the right to strike over plant closures, more paid time off and increased retiree benefits.
“Our members’ expectations are high because Big Three profits are so high,” Fain said. “The Big Three made a combined $21 billion in profits in just the first six months of this year. That’s on top of the quarter-trillion dollars in North American profits they made over the last decade. While Big Three executives and shareholders got rich, UAW members got left behind.”
UAW represents 46,000 workers at GM, 57,000 workers at Ford and 44,000 workers at Stellantis, according to the union. Its contract with the three automakers expires on Sept. 14.
In a statement earlier this month, GM said it’s been “working hard with the UAW every day to ensure we get this agreement right for all our stakeholders. “
“We know that our U.S. economic impact supports more than six jobs for every job created by GM,” the statement said. “We take that responsibility very seriously, and we continue to bargain in good faith each day to support our team members, our customers, the community and the business.”
Stellantis said discussions with the union’s bargaining team “continue to be constructive and collaborative with a focus on reaching a new agreement that balances the concerns of our 43,000 employees with our vision for the future — one that better positions the business to meet the challenges of the U.S. marketplace and secures the future for all of our employees, their families and our company.”
Ford said it looks “forward to working with the UAW on creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changing industry needs a skilled and competitive workforce more than ever.”
In 2019, nearly 50,000 UAW workers walked off their jobs in a nationwide strike at GM that lasted over a month before the union voted to ratify a new contract that in part established bonuses for employees.