UAW Increases Strike Pay Ahead of Summer Negotiations

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones announced Monday that worker strike pay has increased from $200 to $250 a week, signaling the possibility of walkouts just a few months before U.S. worker contracts expire. While it would appear the UAW is preparing to strike, President Gary Jones said it’s not the union’s intent. “No one goes to the bargaining table expecting to strike. But the UAW goes to the bargaining table prepared to strike if our members need to strike,” Jones said. “Raising the strike fund is an important symbol that we have their backs.”

However, Jones chose slightly different phrasing when addressing union members at Cobo Hall on Monday. “Activism and solidarity, that is what secures our power,” Jones told hundreds of union members in Detroit. “The stakes are high. We are ready … We are ready to gear up and fight for what is right. We are ready to fight for our brothers and sisters and act as one.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, his words went over well with a crowd that knows it’s in for a tough round of negotiations this summer. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ford Motor Co. are all scheduled to negotiate new four-year labor deals and at least one is expected to make things very difficult. As Ford finalizes its restructuring plan, GM is following through with its decision to idle five North American plants, including Warren Transmission and Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan. Meanwhile, Lordstown Assembly in Ohio ended production last week, resulting in a lawsuit from the UAW, which claims the move violates the current contract.

Canada’s Unifor has already come down hard on GM, airing unflattering commercials in two countries to try and get the public on its side. Back in the U.S., the UAW has been nearly as active — but not so openly vocal. Jones said increasing the Strike and Defense fund lets negotiators and workers know they’ve got a safety net in the event of a strike, making prolonged action more realistic. “We are solid heading into the next four years of bargaining,” Jones said. “And this extra security for UAW families carries us to the bargaining table united in our goals.”

[Image: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • James Charles James Charles on Mar 13, 2019

    Rather than a pay rise offer the UAW guys a little profit sharing. Lower their wages to a livable level and when business is good they make money and in the hard times they still have enough to buy groceries and pay the electric bills. This should apply to the execs as well. Maybe this would change attitudes and culture and help fix up GM and Ford. The UAW guys would then be paid closer to their real worth and market value.

    • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Mar 13, 2019

      James, It's not just the auto industry, but with obscene levels of CEO pay in general, it's hard for workers to buy that. In any case, GM's hourly workers will get an average of over $10,500 in profit sharing this year for last year's results. That's great. But GM's CEO, who owes her job to the taxpayers, will make over $20 million--THAT IS SPECTACULAR! Good for her! Now, about motivating the worker bees to give up 6 minutes of break time or wage increases to help the company compete.... Akear/Jatz, if GM's CEO was a M---, she's probably be more secure about herself and work on fixing (what's wrong with) GM and improving what's right with it. Instead, she has her delusional electric vision--because she wants her place in the history books, and is not content with her lot in life, which is (a very good one by the way) some one who played 'the game' well, and rose to the top of the Titanic because the government bailed it out. As for the UAW, they are in tough spot. This is not 1970. GM can, and will continue to invest in Mexico. And if Mexico can ever de-corrupt itself, GM will invest even more. As to all this 'brothers and sister' stuff, while it is generally illegal for an employer to pay a black (or white) 2x as much as a white (or black) for the same job, for the Detroit Three's UAW workers, this is permitted. Newer hires make A LOT less than the old ones. To it's credit, the Canadian union wouldn't go along with this. Of course, being principled has its price, as GM is quietly winding down it's Canadian operations (and Unifor knows that). It's an ugly situation....except for most of the others in the world (we could be living in Syria, Africa, China, South America, Mexico, Southern Europe.....)

  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Mar 13, 2019

    I may be too harsh. In all fairness to Mary Barra, HER job depends to a large extent on share price. GM's share price has been flat, even though GM has increased profitability CONSIDERABLY under her watch. In all fairness, when we take shots at GM, they have gotten much more profitable. Their latest cuts, on paper should help with that. Time will tell if it was a prudent, if difficult move, or if it was poorly thought out and mis-times (for example, if we have a fuel crisis and small cars are hot....) On the other hand, Tesla was, and still remains, the darling of Wall St., though it loses money, while GM makes more every year... I'm sure it's been noted, jealously, at the Ren Cen. So, her vision of an electric/autonomous worlds with "No accidents, no emissions, no fatalities" may have done more to keep GM's stock where it is than I give her credit for, regardless of whether I think this is a big misallocation of GM's capital. My issue is with corporate governance in general and CEO pay in particular. CEOs all sit on each other's board, and take care of each other. One cannot compare ANY of today's automotive CEOs and execs with GM's team 55 years ago. Back then, not only did GM make a lot of money, but GM was EMULATED by other corporation in every facet, from manufacturing to marketing to accounting to whatever. Yet these people, in inflation adjusted terms, made a lot less...and they did a much better job. On the other hand, it is a lot harder to run a company than hit a ball or throw a pass or make a basket.... Lots of viewpoints...

  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.
  • El scotto Vehicle company white collar (non-union) engineers design the parts and assembly procedures. The UAW members are instructed on how to install the parts. Engineers are also in charge of quality control. The executives are ulimately responible for the quality of their products.
  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.