(NewsSpace.com) – There’s always been a bit of a disconnect between what CEOs and laborers make in terms of annual salary. In fact, it’s been a contentious debate that has sometimes led to worker strikes. The automobile industry is no stranger to such actions.
A sit-down strike at GM that lasted 44 days in 1936 set the tone for future labor workers and unions. In the decades since, the auto industry has experienced several strikes when companies failed to meet worker demands. Now, the Big Three automakers in Detroit are facing billions of dollars in losses due to a recent work stoppage.
Workers Walk Off the Job
When the deadline to reach a negotiation between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the three automaker giants — General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis — passed, nearly 13,000 workers went on strike. UAW president Shawn Fain is coordinating the stoppage, which initially targeted three walkouts at a single plant from each manufacturer. It’s the first time in history that they’re all coming under fire at the same time, and the move occurred at plants that assemble three of the most profitable vehicles.
The main point of contention for the strike centers on wages. Workers are looking to have their raises over the next four years mirror those of the companies’ CEOs. They are asking for 36%, after originally demanding 40%. That would include an immediate 20% raise, then a series of 5% raises each year for the next four years.
One UAW Local president, Tony Totty, referenced GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, whose 2022 salary was $29 million, which marked a 34% increase in a four-year period. He accused the corporations of “making out like bandits” while the workers “feel like [they’re] falling behind.”
Other points the workers want are the restoration of past concessions, which include increased paid time off and medical benefits, and more workers’ rights for those laid off during plant closures.
There have been reactions from all sides of the strike, including the Big Three CEOs, the White House, and striking workers.
Barra has expressed her frustration and disappointment in the way negotiations are proceeding and is looking to keep them going, hoping to avoid a long, drawn-out strike that “will not be good for the economy overall.”
Ford executives said agreeing to the current terms on the table would double its US labor costs. GM executive Gerald Johnson said the proposal would be “absolutely impossible to absorb.”
President Joe Biden also made his support clear for the striking workers, saying he respects their “rights to use their options” and that he “understand[s] their frustrations.” He gave praise to the UAW, saying it “helped create the American middle class and … deserves a contract that sustains the middle class.”
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