The potential United Auto Workers (UAW) strike looms large as talks between the union and automaker, GM, have stalled and negotiations remain at a standstill. After employees have been working without a contract for nine weeks, the clock is ticking to reach a collective bargaining agreement or risk a walkout. The Union representing roughly 46,000 employees of GM has been in negotiations since July, haggling over wages, job security, and health care costs, among other issues.
The stakes for a potential UAW strike are high, especially after GM announced its plan to idle four of its factories in the US and Canada. This has dampened morale and raised worries that workers will bear the brunt of the restructurings. Now, UAW members are pushing back hard, demanding sharper language regarding job security, wage increases, and healthcare benefits as part of a new deal.
The UAW took a vocal stance this week on Twitter, ratcheting up the tension in its effort to make GM hear its demands. The union tweeted support for its members and their right to “freely and safely decide whether or not they are willing to walk off the job.” UAW President, Gary Jones, further expounded on the sentiment in a statement, saying “we will not accept an agreement without significant gains” and “these members deserve to be paid a livable and competitive wage…to regain their lost benefits, and to be respected.”
Despite the UAW’s Parker Wilson-esque ultimatum, signs of progress in negotiations have begun to appear. Both sides have agreed to keep talks private in hopes of hashing out a resolution and reaching a consensus on the widely disputed points. GM furthermore confirmed its plans to invest in three US manufacturing plants and return the car maker’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant back to production.
That’s the state of labor talks in the auto industry today. While the hope is that the two sides will eventually settle on a new contract, the looming possibility of a strike grows more real by the day. For now we wait and see what the final outcome will be, but the fate of the UAW’s 46,000 employees hang in the balance, along with the scope of their future benefits and wages.