The year 2023 could go down in history for being a year full of strikes. It started with writers and shortly after the actors followed suit. In Los Angeles, hotel workers, officials and the Unified School District also went on strike. As of Friday, 13,000 workers from the United Auto Workers (UAW) have also gone on strike.
The UAW strike, like that of the screenwriters and actors, is nationwide. It is the first time in the union's 88-year history that the employees from the Big Three companies (Ford, General Motors and Stellantis Jeep) have gone on strike at the same time after not reaching an agreement with the salary offers for their workers. Shawn Fain, the leader of the UAW, spoke out in a video posted on Facebook the "historic" importance of this strike: "For the first time in our history, we will strike all three of the Big Three at once."
However, not all workers at the big three car factories are on strike. In fact, in a surprising move by the union, plants will strike on a rotating basis. "This strategy will keep companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table," he said.
Wage increases and 32-hour work weeks are the UAW's main demands
The shutdown will continue until the car companies reach an agreement with the UAW. AP reported that the union is demanding a 36% wage increase over four years. The main goal is to negotiate so that workers can make up to $32 per hour in four years instead of eight years. New employees start out at $17 an hour and take nearly a decade to work their way up to $32. Large companies, however, are not willing to go up this much. Ford and GM are offering a 20% increase while Stellantis is willing to go up 17.5%. In addition, the union also wants workers to have a 32-hour workweek with 40 hours of pay.
The strike could affect the entire country. If the strike goes on for too long and workers don't manufacture cars, dealers could run out of cars which would therefore drive up car prices, hurting the U.S. economy.