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September 15, 2023 United Auto Workers go on strike

What we covered here

  • The United Auto Workers union is on strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the first time in its history that it has struck all three of America's unionized automakers at the same time.
  • President Joe Biden called Friday on the automakers to improve their offer. "I believe they should go further to ensure record profits mean record contracts for the UAW." Separately, his campaign fired back at Donald Trump, who said UAW president Shawn Fain was “not doing a good job."
  • The strike is unusual in that the union is not having all 145,000 members walk out simultaneously. Instead, it has selected one large assembly plant for each company.
  • The union has made ambitious demands in wages, benefits and job protections. With all three automakers reporting record or near-record profits, the union was trying to recapture many benefits workers gave up more than a decade ago when the companies were on the brink of bankruptcy.
8:03 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

UAW president says 80% of union demands have been left off proposals from big 3 automakers

Proposals from the big three automakers haven’t addressed 80% of UAW member demands, UAW President Shawn Fain said following a UAW rally on Friday. 

“80% of our demands, 80% of our member demands were left off of their proposals, they fall way short of where they need to be,” Fain said.

Strikes at more plants are possible, Fain added, citing the ongoing negotiations.

“It could be in a day, it could be in a week, it just depends on how things progress or don’t progress,” he said.

CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich told Fain that Ford announced they will lay off 600 workers and GM will idle about 2,000 workers starting next week. Yurkevich asked if they will get strike pay given some of those individuals are not eligible for supplemental pay from the companies and some may not be eligible for unemployment, either.

“Our members are going to be taken care of, no matter what happens,” Fain said. “We have their back and they have our back.”

Yurkevich pressed for more details on how, financially, the workers would be taken care of but Fain didn’t provide an answer.

Fain was asked if the Biden administration would help or hurt the union’s cause.

“I’m not worried about the Biden administration right now, this is our job, this is our fight,” he said.

“We have been very clear about our demands and if the companies don’t come to the pump and deliver for these members and give them their fair share of economic and social justice, we’ll amp up the pressure, we’ll take more plants out.”

- CNN’s Kate Trafecante and Maria Sole Campinoti contributed to this alert
6:16 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

Sen. Bernie Sanders calls on auto CEOs to "end your greed"

Bernie Sanders and UAW President Shawn Fain, left, speak at a rally in support of United Auto Workers members as they strike in Detroit, Michigan, on September 15. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

At a rally for UAW workers in downtown Detroit, Sen. Bernie Sanders voiced his support for the workers on strike and said salary increases were necessary due to growing income inequality in the US.

"All of you know that there was once a time when a union job in the automobile industry was the gold standard for the working class in America. Well, we are determined to bring those days back again," Sanders said.

Sanders pushed back against those who have said the autoworkers' strike would damage the US economy.

"Let me tell you something about the economy. When you have auto workers who cannot afford to buy the cars they make, that is bad for the economy," he said. "It is totally reasonable for auto workers to finally receive a fair share of the record-breaking profits that their labor has produced."
According to Anderson Economic Group, a 10-day strike against the Big Three could cost the US economy $5 billion.

During the rally, Sanders also addressed the CEOs of General Motors, Stellantis and Ford by name, telling them it was "time to end your greed."

"It is time for you to treat your employees with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is time to sit down and negotiate a fair contract," Sanders said.
6:16 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

Strikes could help Toyota's new truck

America's favorite mid-size pickup, the Toyota Tacoma, unveils 2024 lineup. Handout/Toyota

The United Auto Workers' targeted strikes stopped production of all midsized pickups by three domestic automakers. The move could give a head start to Toyota's newly redesigned Tacoma truck, a new report from S&P Global Mobility points out.

At the same time, though, the strikes at least didn't take out the automakers' far more important and popular full-sized trucks, like the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.

Among mid-sized trucks, the Toyota Tacoma has long been the best selling model, but other automakers have been trying to make gains in that market segment. Ford had just started production of a redesigned Ranger pickup when the strike was called. GM had also introduced redesigned versions of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsized trucks for the 2023 model year. Stellantis had just unveiled a new, updated version of its Jeep Gladiator pickup a couple of days before these strikes were announced. The updated Gladiator was supposed to go on sale by the end of this year.
For its part, Toyota had unveiled its own fully redesigned Tacoma last May. The new Tacoma is expected to go into production in November.

These production disruptions could be "potentially handing segment-leading Toyota an inventory advantage," according to S&P. But, by leaving the big trucks alone for now, the UAW could be saving a much bigger punch for later, said S&P's Stephanie Brinley.

5:17 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

GM says Kansas plant may run out of parts next week due to strike

General Motors told workers at its Fairfax plant in Kansas that the factory would soon run out of parts due to the UAW's targeted strike of its Wentzville, Missouri plant.

"Currently, the Wentzville Team is providing critical stampings to Fairfax. Due to the strike's impact on Wentzville operations, we anticipate running out of parts for Fairfax as soon as early next week," an internal memo sent Friday said.

On Friday, UAW workers walked out of three plants – one from each of the Big Three automakers, including Ford and Stellantis as well. GM's strike began at its Wentzville, Missouri plant, which has 3,600 UAW members on staff.

In a statement to CNN, General Motors said that it was "unfortunate that the UAW leadership's decision to call a strike at Wentzville Assembly has already had a negative ripple effect, with GM's Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas and its 2,000 team members expected to be idled as soon as early next week."

5:24 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

Ford tells 600 workers not to report to work in Michigan plant

A sign leans against a fence as members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union walk the picket line in front of Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 15 Matthew Hatcher/AFP/Getty Images

Ford told about 600 workers at the truck plant in Wayne, Michigan, where the paint and final assembly department is on strike, not to report to work Friday. It's one of three plants where UAW members are on strike.

Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch said that since the company's production system is "highly interconnected," the targeted strike at the paint department "will have knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage."

The carmaker said its decision affected about 600 workers in the "body construction department and south sub-assembly area of integrated stamping."

The union is on strike for better pay and benefits and more time off; the companies have argued they can't afford the union's demands. Both sides have blamed each other for the work stoppages.

"This is not a lockout. This layoff is a consequence of the strike at Michigan Assembly Plant’s final assembly and paint departments, because the components built by these 600 employees use materials that must be e-coated for protection. E-coating is completed in the paint department, which is on strike," Enoch said.

5:02 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

The three plants could potentially lose production of up to 25,000 vehicles

The Wentzville Assembly Plant is seen as GM workers with the UAW Local 2250 Union strike outside the General Motors Wentzville Assembly Plant on September 15, 2023 in Wentzville, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Automotive plants shut down by striking United Auto Workers could lose production of up to 25,000 vehicles, analysts said.

The Anderson Economic Group based its unit loss estimates on 10 days of shut down production, using 2023 plant production data.

The Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, had the most severe potential production losses of 11,000 to 13,000 Jeep Gladiators and Jeep Wranglers.

GM's Wentzville Plant in Missouri could potentially lose 7,000 to 8,000 vehicles rolling off the line. Those include the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Express, GMC Canyon and GMC Savana.

Ford's plant in Wayne, Michigan, could lose 2,400 to 4,000 units of Ford Broncos and Ford Rangers.

4:09 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

Big Three auto stocks largely gain Friday despite historic strike

Shares of Detroit's Big Three automakers largely closed Friday higher, despite the start of a historic strike from the United Auto Workers union.

Ford shares dipped 0.08%, Stellantis gained 1.9% and General Motors added 0.9%.

While it's unclear how long the strike will last, some economists say it's too early to ring alarm bells.

"The impact from the current strike activity on the monthly job numbers or quarterly GDP numbers would be negligible, even if the strike lasts for a few weeks," said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial.

Shares of Toyota rose 2.7%, while shares of Tesla lost 0.6% in a broader tech sell-off on Friday.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might change slightly.
5:45 p.m. ET, September 15, 2023

What day one of the UAW strike looks like

Across the United States, United Auto Workers union members began their historic strike against the Big Three. Here's what the first day of the strike looked like on the picket lines:

United Auto Workers from Louisville, Kentucky, rally in support of striking UAW members, in Detroit, Michigan, on September 15. Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Members of the United Auto Workers union walk the picket line in front of the Ford Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan today. Matthew Hatcher/AFP/Getty Images

Ford Motor Company Michigan Assembly plant workers, part of Local 900 in Wayne, stand in a long line on Friday that wraps around their union hall across the street from the plant to register to strike and receive their weekly strike pay. Eric Seals/USA Today Network/Imagn

GM workers with the UAW Local 2250 Union strike outside the General Motors Wentzville assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

United Auto Workers hold signs while on strike at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio. Jeremy Wadsworth/The Blade/AP

A United Auto Workers member wears a shirt supporting the strike on a picket line outside the Ford Motor Co. Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, today. Emily Elconin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

GM workers with the UAW Local 2250 Union strike outside the General Motors Wentzville assembly plant today in Wentzville, Missouri.  Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

United Auto Workers hold signs while on strike this morning at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio. Jeremy Wadsworth/The Blade/AP

Members of the United Auto Workers union (UAW) strike outside of the Ford Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, earlier today. Mike Mulholland/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain joins UAW members who are on a strike at the Ford Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, on the morning of September 15. Rebecca Cook/Reuters