US auto workers union: Strike to expand if no agreement reached on pay hikes

The United States’ main auto workers union has warned that an ongoing strike against the top three car manufacturers in Detroit will expand if those companies do not agree to raise their salaries.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents some 150,000 auto workers, started the strike on Friday to pressure the big three automakers — General Motors (GM), Ford and Stellantis — into raising wages.

“If we don’t get better offers and…take care of the members’ needs, we’re going to amp this up even more,” UAW President Shawn Fain said, adding that the companies had “no excuse” for not resolving salary disputes given their massive profits of recent years.

“We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do. The membership is ready, the membership is fed up,” he said.

This is the first time the UAW has gone on strike against all three automakers simultaneously. The strike has, therefore, been rated as the most ambitious US industrial labor action in decades.

It seeks to force the three automakers to offer the workers a pay raise of 40 percent, while the companies have been offering raises of around 20 percent.

Stellantis had offered its workers what it called a “highly competitive” wage increase of 21 percent over four years, but Fain called that “definitely a no-go.”

Nearly 13,000 workers have walked out of three auto factories in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio, halting production at the plants producing the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Chevrolet Colorado, along with other popular models.

Also on Sunday, Republicans seized on the opportunity to tie the strike to voters’ concerns about inflation, throwing jabs at the administration of President Joe Biden’s economic performance.

“I have no doubt in my mind that all those hard-working autoworkers are living in the same reality as other Americans, and that is that wages are not keeping up with inflation,” former Vice President, Mike Pence, said.

He blamed Biden for “the worst inflation in 40 years,” and also criticized his administration’s electric vehicles push, which he said would mainly benefit battery-makers in China.

Former President Donald Trump came up with similar remarks, saying, “The auto workers will not have any jobs… because all of these cars are going to be made in China — the electric cars, automatically, are going to be made in China.”

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