The United Auto Workers (UAW) union on Sept. 15 launched strikes at three US auto plants after failing to reach an agreement over new contracts, the first-ever simultaneous labor action against the Detroit Three automakers.
The UAW contracts at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis expired at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sept. 14.
Detroit automakers, like their global counterparts, have been focused on cost reductions, which in some cases include job cuts, to help accelerate a shift to electric vehicles (EVs) from gasoline-powered vehicles.
Photo: AFP 照片：法新社
The UAW is pushing automakers to eliminate the two-tier wage system under which new hires earn as much as 25 percent less than veterans.
UAW President Shawn Fain has said repeatedly that the union will push to restore pay improvements tied to the cost of living and retiree benefits cut during the 2008-2009 economic crisis.
The UAW also wants strong salary increases, given the financial success of the automakers, citing generous executive payouts and large US federal subsidies for EV sales.
Photo: AFP 照片：法新社
The union also wants defined benefit pensions for all workers restored, 32-hour work weeks and additional cost-of-living hikes, job security guarantees and an end to the use of temporary workers.
The UAW has been wary of the industry shift to EVs and called on the Biden administration to soften its proposed vehicle emission cuts that would require 67 percent of new vehicles to be electric by 2032.
EVs require fewer parts to build, and industry officials have said that will result in a need for fewer workers. Fain has said there should be no jobs lost because of the EV shift.
Photo: EPA-EFE 照片：歐新社
The Detroit Three want to close the cost gap they have with foreign automakers with non-unionized US factories.
Ford sources estimate that their US labor costs are US$64 an hour, compared with an estimated US$55 for foreign automakers and US$45 to US$50 for EV leader Tesla.
The companies also want greater flexibility in how they use their US workforces to increase efficiency and cut costs as the industry shifts to EVs.
The industrial action hit the Detroit Three automakers as they ramp up efforts to maximize gasoline and EV vehicle production to capitalize on demand for new vehicles.
A full strike would hit earnings at each affected automaker by about US$400 million to US$500 million per week assuming all production was lost, Deutsche Bank previously estimated. Some losses could be recouped by boosting production schedules later, but that possibility fades if a strike extends to weeks or months.
A request by the World Health Organization (WHO) for more information on a surge in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children in China has attracted global attention. Health authorities have not detected any unusual or novel pathogens, the WHO later said, and doctors and public health researchers say there is no reason for international alarm. Authorities in Taiwan, however, last week advised the elderly, very young and those with poor immunity to avoid travel to China. The following is what we know about the surge in illness in the world’s second most populous country so far, and why experts think there
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