Time is running out to avoid a strike by unionized automakers in the United States.
The United Auto Workers’ contracts expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday. The contracts covered 145,000 UAW members at three companies: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which makes vehicles under the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands for North America.
With no agreement reached when the contract expired, the union said it launched targeted strikes against three facilities – one at each company.
Here’s what you need to know now that the strike has started:
Where did the workers leave their jobs?
UAW President Shawn Fain announced that workers at a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis factory in Toledo, Ohio; and a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, would go on strike. Workers walked off their jobs protesting outside factories Friday morning.
It may not take much to virtually shut down production at all companies. They operate a complex network of factories that depend on obtaining parts from different facilities.
Slowing or halting production at a few engine or transmission plants at each company could be as effective in shutting down operations as an all-out strike at all plants, industry experts say.
Key figures that motivate UAW members:
$32.32: The hourly wages of most UAW members at GM, Ford and Stellantis
$18: The starting salary of a UAW worker
$15: Starting salary for temporary workers
These salaries are not adjusted for inflation, which has increased significantly over the past two years.
Will the car manufacturers negotiate?
Based on their latest reports, Ford and GM are now offering a 20% increase over the life of the contract, and Stellantis is offering 17.5%. The union began by demanding an immediate 20 percent raise and four additional increases of 5 percent each over the course of a four-year agreement.
Mary Barra, CEO of GM sent a letter to employees Thursday saying the company’s latest offer now includes a 20 percent raise, with an immediate 10 percent pay increase. The lowest paid temporary employees would receive $20 an hour, which is a 20% increase from the $16.67 an hour they currently receive.
Jim Farley, CEO of Ford told CNN that an offer from Ford of a 20 percent raise over the life of the contract is the most lucrative offer the company has made to the union in its 80-year history. But he said meeting the union’s demands for a nearly 40 percent raise, accompanied by a four-day work week and other benefit improvements, would have been unaffordable.
Farley blamed the union for the lack of progress in negotiations. But the union criticized the companies for waiting until late August or early September to present their first counteroffers.
Anger rises with Stellantis:
Stellantis uses more lower-paid temporary workers than other automakers. Eliminating or at least limiting the use of temporary workers is a major issue for the union.
And anger at Stellantis is even greater after former company executives were caught giving bribes to former union officials, says Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in Buffalo.
Many members who are angry about the corruption scandal that led to the imprisonment of two recent UAW presidents are also angry at Stellantis.