Workers walk out at plants for each of the Big Three automakers

Table of Contents

What will happen to car prices?

GM, Ford and Stellantis have been running their factories around the clock to build up supplies on dealer lots. But that’s also putting more money into the pockets of UAW members and strengthening their financial cushions.

At the end of August, the three automakers collectively had enough vehicles to last for 70 days. After that, they would run short. Buyers who need vehicles would likely go to nonunion competitors, who would be able to charge them more.

Vehicles are already scarce when compared with the years before the pandemic, which touched off a global shortage of computer chips that hobbled auto factories.

Sam Fiorani, an analyst with AutoForecast Solutions, a consulting firm, said the automakers had roughly 1.96 million vehicles on hand at the end of July. Before the pandemic, that figure was as high as 4 million.

“A work stoppage of three weeks or more,” Fiorani said, “would quickly drain the excess supply, raising vehicle prices and pushing more sales to non-union brands.”

Fetterman to drive to factory and picket where his SUV was built

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania, plans to walk the picket line in Wayne, Michigan, with striking auto workers, his office said today.

The senator plans to drive one of Detroit’s hottest products, the retro-styled Ford Bronco, assembled by UAW workers, roughly 300 miles from Braddock, Pennsylvania, to Wayne, his office said in a statement.

Once there in the late morning, he plans to walk the line at the factory where his SUV was built, it said.

Earlier today, Fetterman suggested UAW workers were emblematic of the American way of life.

“The union way of life is sacred,” he said in an earlier statement. “It’s what built this nation, it’s what built Pennsylvania, and it’s what built the middle class.” 

UAW’s Fain: ‘Can you hear us now?’

“Can you hear us now?” UAW president Fain asked manufacturers at a strike rally in downtown Detroit tonight.

He said the Big Three U.S. automakers have seen massive profits as workers’ pay has stagnated or declined.

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain speaks during a rally in Detroit, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. The UAW is conducting a strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain speaks during a rally in Detroit, on Friday.Paul Sancya / AP

Fain’s spreadsheet has the Big Three clearing more than $20 billion in profit in a recent six-month span and $250 billion in the last decade. The carmakers say they are facing historic pressure to make a costly transition to electric vehicles.

Fain complained that the companies could have rewarded workers who gave up concessions in the 2000s in order to save the Big Three from catastrophe, concessions never returned, even amid what the union says are record profits.

“Our workers have went backwards,” Fain told the crowd. “All three of the Big Three have price-gauged American consumers, they’ve ripped off the American taxpayer and all three have nickel-and-dimed the American worker.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib says auto workers are shaping history

Speaking at the downtown Detroit rally for striking autoworkers, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., this afternoon tried to frame the dispute in historic terms, comparing autoworkers to civil rights demonstrators.

“This is where every corner is a reminder of us fighting for civil rights,” she said.

Tlaib argued that evolutionary change doesn’t happen in the United States until it comes from a true groundswell — “when the streets demand it, when you all uprise and make sure you are respected and valued.”

She acknowledged automakers’ big profits, but said, “They don’t have all the power. We do.”

Bernie Sanders to CEOs: ‘It is time for you to end your greed’

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed autoworkers at a downtown Detroit rally this afternoon, calling on working people across the U.S. to stand in solidarity with the walkout.

Sanders called out automaker CEOs, all of whom made over $20 million last year, about their pay.

“It is time for you to end your greed,” Sanders said. “It is time for you to treat your employees with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is time to sit down and negotiate a fair contract.”

The independent senator from Vermont has promoted the strikes as a pivotal moment in a broader campaign to raise living standards for working people across the U.S.

“Let us stand together to end corporate greed, let us stand together to rebuild the disappearing middle class, let us create an economy that works for all, not just the one percent,” Sanders said.

“Let us all, every American, in every state in this country stand with the UAW,” the senator said.

Man allegedly sent threatening texts to union chief

A Michigan man was facing charges of making felony threats to the UAW president ahead of the union’s strike against automakers.

Zachary David White, 31, is accused of making a terroristic threat and threatening to use a bomb or other harmful device, prosecutors in Genesee County, Michigan, said today.

It wasn’t clear if White, from Davison Township, had an attorney, and the area public defender’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Early Wednesday, he texted Fain as the UAW marched toward a strike, the Office of the Genesee County Prosecutor said in a statement.

The exact wording of the alleged threats wasn’t revealed in the statement, and a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

“I am not going to second guess Mr. White’s intentions,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in the statement.

The county is home to the city of Flint, “birthplace of General Motors,” the automaker says.

Biden sending teams to Detroit

GM says plant with 2,000 workers could be idled in days

General Motors says it expects to stop work at its Fairfax Assembly and Stamping plant in Kansas “as soon as early next week” because workers at another GM facility went on strike Friday.

That strike began after the previous contract between United Auto Workers members and GM, Ford and Stellantis expired at midnight. Workers at GM’s facility Wentzville, Missouri, struck at that time.

GM says the end of that contract means it can’t provide supplemental unemployment benefits to employees of the Fairfax plant.

Ford says 600 employees are being laid off after strike begins

Ford says it told 600 employees not to report to work Friday after the United Auto Workers union went on strike.

UAW members at three manufacturing plants walked off the job after their contract with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis expired at midnight. One of those three plants was a Ford facility in Wayne, Michigan.

“The strike at Michigan Assembly Plant’s final assembly and paint departments has directly impacted the operations in other parts of the facility. Approximately 600 employees at Michigan Assembly Plant’s body construction department and south sub-assembly area of integrated stamping were notified not to report to work Sept. 15,” the company said.

Ford says it isn’t locking out workers. It says the laid off employees can’t do their work because the paint department is on strike.

Statement from UAW President Shawn Fain after strike begins

UAW President Shawn Fain released a press statement at 2:30 p.m. ET today after the union went on strike against all the Big Three U.S. automakers for the first time in its history. The strike began at midnight after the union’s previous contract with the Big Three expired. Workers walked off the job at plants belonging to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler’s maker, Stellantis.

Fain said in part:

“Last night we launched a historic strike at three major Big Three facilities after Ford, GM, and Stellantis each failed to offer a fair contract to our 150,000 autoworkers.

For six weeks, the companies have had our economic demands. For six weeks, they chose not to get down to business. They squandered the time we had, and once again want to blame the workers for their mistakes and mismanagement.

We agree with Joe Biden when he says “record profits mean record contracts.” We don’t agree when he says negotiations have broken down. Our national elected negotiators and UAW leadership are hard at work at the bargaining table. Our members and allies are standing strong at the picket lines. Anyone who wants to stand with us can grab a sign and hold the line.”

Fain said UAW leaders expect to be back at the negotiating table tomorrow, adding: “All three companies have received a comprehensive counteroffer from our union, and we await their response.”

Sen. Vance supports UAW workers, pins blame on Biden for strike


Ohio Sen. JD Vance’s position highlights the tricky spot Midwestern Republicans are in amid the UAW strike.

On one hand, as a member of the newer populist wing of the GOP who represents a state with a large union population, Vance has said he supports the UAW workers’ fight for higher wages, calling himself “among the most pro-labor Republicans in the U.S. Senate.” But he’s also trying to pin the blame for the strike and its potential economic impact on President Joe Biden.

Vance sent a letter today to senior Biden adviser Gene Sperling claiming that his role as the White House’s main liaison to the talks needs “scrutiny,” now that negotiations have fallen apart.

Further, Vance accused Sperling and the White House of steering the strikes into red states, including Ohio, suggesting without evidence that the administration — not UAW workers — chose their strike locations for political gain. “Only one strike affects Michigan, where the bulk of UAW members live and work. This pattern seems hardly coincidental,” suggesting that additional strikes in Michigan “could be costly” to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and ally of Biden’s, and could hurt Biden himself in a state that Trump won in 2016.

“I fear that you have exploited the UAW to protect your boss at the expense of American workers,” Vance wrote to Sterling.

A UAW spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Vance’s claim.

Trump slams UAW strike, warns autoworkers’ jobs going to China

Former President Donald Trump warned that U.S. autoworkers’ jobs will move to China and accused the United Auto Workers’ leadership of failing its members, thousands of whom went on strike today against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

“The autoworkers will not have any jobs, Kristen, because all of these cars are going to be made in China,” Trump told NBC News’ Kristen Welker in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

Read the full story here

Biden says he respects UAW strike after talks collapse

President Joe Biden said today he hopes the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three auto companies return to the negotiating table to forge “a win-win agreement.”

“Let’s be clear, no one wants a strike,” Biden said in remarks from the White House after talks between both parties collapsed and union workers went on strike at midnight.

“But I respect workers’ right to use their options under the collective bargaining system,” he said.

Biden said he understands workers’ frustration and stressed that the “record profits” auto companies have earned “have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers.” He said he wants a “win-win” for both autoworkers and auto companies “that promotes good strong middle-class jobs that workers can raise a family on.”

Read the full story here.

GM’s Barra: Economy will feel strike’s ‘ripple effects’ soon

General Motors CEO Mary Barra told NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch that the UAW strike might start to affect the U.S. economy relatively soon, assuming the union and the Big Three don’t reach agreements on a new contract.

“For every GM job, there’s six other jobs that are associated with it, and that’s why the ripple effect can happen so fast. It’s not going to be good for the economy. It’s not going to be good for anyone,” she said.

Barra has been GM’s chief executive since January 2014, so this is the second UAW strike under her watch. The first targeted GM specifically and lasted 40 days in September and October 2019.

Chart: The largest strikes in U.S. history

The United Auto Workers strike has the potential to become one of the largest work stoppages in the past three decades — but this UAW strike is a far cry from the humongous strikes of the 20th century, when more than a half-million walked off their jobs in multiple strikes to fight for better workplaces.

Read the full story here

GM’s Mary Barra says car supplies might become tight quickly

The first General Motors employees to go on strike were workers at its Wentzville, Missouri, plant. CEO Mary Barra told NBC News the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks are made there, and that customers might start seeing the impact of those actions quickly.

“We can’t make enough of the products because customers want them. So it can have an immediate impact,” she told NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch.

Barra, who has been GM’s CEO since 2014, added that car and truck supplies are unusually tight now, a point that experts have also noted.

“We still have not caught up from everything that’s happened in the last couple of years,” she said, referring to post-pandemic supply chain problems and specifically to semiconductor shortages.

GM CEO: No talks with striking workers expected today

General Motors CEO Mary Barra told NBC News that she does not expect the United Auto Workers union to negotiate with the Big Three today after 13,000 of its members walked off the job at midnight, beginning a strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis.

“My understanding is, no negotiation today,” she said. “Our team is at the table ready to continue and get the problem-solving we need to do to get people back to work.”

The UAW did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why Stellantis could face a longer strike than Ford or GM

Stellantis has a problem that its local rivals don’t. The company, formed in early 2021 from a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French automaker Peugeot, has more production capacity than it needs around the world. Stellantis has signaled that it intends to close or sell 18 of its U.S. facilities, including factories and parts depots. The company has a total of about 35 factories and parts distribution centers in the U.S. now.

That’s a plan that the union is unlikely to accept willingly.

Read the full story here

When will the inventory run out?

It’s tough to say just how long it will take for the strike to cut inventories at dealers and start hurting the companies’ bottom lines.

Jeff Schuster, head of automotive for the Global Data research firm, said Stellantis has the most inventory and could hold out longer. The company has enough vehicles at or en route to dealers to last for 75 days. Ford has a 62-day supply and GM has 51. All have been building as many highly profitable pickup trucks and big SUVS as they can.

Still, Schuster predicted the strikes could last longer than previous work stoppages such as a 2019 strike against GM that lasted 40 days.

“This one feels like there’s a lot more at risk here on both sides,” he said.

Photo: UAW picket outside Ford assembly plant

Members of United Auto Workers picket across the street from the Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, today

The US auto workers' union announced the start of a strike at three factories just after midnight on Friday, September 15, as a deadline expired to reach a deal with employers on a new contract.
Matthew Hatcher / AFP – Getty Images

Biden to address strike

President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three auto companies.

Stellantis ‘extremely disappointed’

Stellantis said it was “extremely disappointed” following the strike’s launch.

“We are extremely disappointed by the UAW leadership’s refusal to engage in a responsible manner to reach a fair agreement in the best interest of our employees, their families and our customers,” the automaker said.

“We immediately put the Company in contingency mode and will take all the appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the Company.”

UAW president tells NBC News: We want economic justice

Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers Union, told NBC News that it was a shame that negotiations broke down but that his members were striking for economic justice.

“We didn’t want to be here. We want a fair agreement. We want fair economic and social justice for our members. That’s what this is all about. And it’s a shame,” he said, speaking at a Ford assembly plant in Michigan.

Fain said the bargaining committee had delayed and “dragged out” negotiations on pay but added that the wider issue was how the industry transitions to electric cars in a way that’s fair to workers.

Asked whether a 20% pay raise might sound attractive to most American workers, Fain argued that the price of cars has risen 30% in the last four years while the pay of auto industry CEOs has gone up by 40%.

Picketing at Wayne, Michigan, plant

United Auto Workers members Bryan Horvath and Ann Hardy picket at Ford's assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., early today.
United Auto Workers members Bryan Horvath and Ann Hardy picket at Ford’s assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., early today.Paul Sancya / AP

Pay raises loomed large in the talks, but bigger challenges await

Many of the core issues in the labor dispute between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three U.S. automakers are familiar: salary increases, sick days and pay grades.

But lurking in the background is the transition to electric vehicles and away from cars and trucks with internal combustion engines — those that run on gasoline and motor oil.

The change, which might be the biggest in the history of the auto industry, has major implications for the business and for its workers.

Read the full story here

Workers strike at Jeep Wrangler plant in Ohio

AFL-CIO standing in solidarity with UAW

Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 60 unions with 12.5 million members, said she fully backed the UAW and the strike.

“This fight isn’t just about auto workers and their families, this is about creating a future where everyone can prosper,” she posted on social media as the negotiation deadline expired and autoworkers walked out.

On strike and on the line

GM says its ‘unprecedented economic package’ wasn’t enough

GM said that before time ran out, it had made “historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments” and offered an unprecedented economic package in an effort to reach a deal with the union.

It said in a statement early this morning that it’s ready to return to negotiations and get people back to work as quickly as possible, “for the benefit of our team members, customers, suppliers and communities across the U.S.”

Contract negotiations fell short

The union had been negotiating with all three automakers simultaneously, in a break from previous rounds of contract talks. 

Leaders on both sides have publicly alleged that their counterparts across the table weren’t talking talks seriously.

Striking three companies at once a first for UAW

Never before in the union’s 88-year history have its members been on strike against all three of the Big Three companies at the same time.

In what Fain is calling a “stand-up strike,” about 13,000 workers at three plants in Missouri, Michigan and Missouri were the first to walk off.

Why those three sites?

In picking the first three sites to strike, the union didn’t go after the companies’ big cash cows, which are full-size pickups and big SUVs, and went more for plants that make vehicles with lower profit margins, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“They want to give the companies some space without putting them up against the wall,” Masters said. “They’re not putting them right into the corner. You put an animal in the corner and it’s dangerous.”

About the first plants set to strike

GM’s Wentzville assembly plant (Local 2250, Region 4) has about 3,600 members. It produces the Chevrolet Colorado, Express, GMC Canyon and Savana.

In Toledo, Ohio, about 5,800 members at the Stellantis Toledo assembly complex (Local 12, Region 2B) will walk off. They make the Jeep Wrangler and the Gladiator.

The Ford Michigan assembly plant — final assembly and paint (Local 900, Region 1A) in Wayne has about 3,300 members. It produces the Ford Ranger and Bronco.

The UAW strike is officially on

The UAW is officially walking off the job after it failed to reach agreements on a new contract with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler maker Stellantis.

It’s the first time the union has gone on strike since its now-expired contract was ratified in 2019.

Whitmer says both sides should be looking for wins

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has autos top of mind.

She spent part of Thursday at the Detroit Auto Show, checking out new makes and models.

But she said her office has been in touch with the UAW and the Big Three automakers for the last month and a half about labor negotiations. 

She said they need to come to an agreement that works for all parties. It’s possible to reach a deal that benefits both the UAW and the Big Three, she said.

Whitmer said she has been in contact with President Joe Biden and federal officials regularly about the possible strike and contract negotiations. 

Ford says it’s got future of workers — and company — in mind

As the threat of a UAW walkout grew nearer, Ford said it was doing its part to avoid a strike.

“Ford has bargained in good faith in an effort to avoid a strike, which could have wide-ranging consequences for our business and the economy. It also impacts the very 57,000 UAW-Ford workers we are trying to reward with this contract,” it said in a statement late tonight.

It said it had employees and the future top of mind in the negotiations.

“Ford remains absolutely committed to reaching an agreement that rewards our employees and protects Ford’s ability to invest in the future as we move through industry-wide transformation,” the statement said.

Starting small would let UAW stretch its strike fund

Estimates have projected that the union’s $825 million fund, designed to pay eligible workers $500 a week while picketing, would support a strike of up to 11 weeks by its 146,000 members at all three automakers.

By targeting just one plant at each of the Big Three at first, the UAW could make that money go further.

It would need to distribute strike pay to just the 12,700 workers at the three chosen sites initially.

Walkouts set for three sites in three states

Fain said three units, one at each of the three manufacturers, would be the first to picket, starting at midnight.

Those sites are:

  • GM: Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant
  • Stellantis: Toledo, Ohio, assembly plant
  • Ford: Wayne, Michigan, assembly plant — final assembly and paint

The UAW plans a major rally in downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon.

With clock ticking, UAW makes plans to walk

Two hours before the deadline, Fain told members to be prepared to strike.

“We will strike all three of the Big Three at once,” he said, adding that negotiations continue and a deal could still be reached before midnight.

Biden in touch with UAW and auto companies

Hours before the deadline, the White House said President Joe Biden had been in touch with UAW President Shawn Fain, as well as leaders of the major auto companies, to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations.

The White House says the administration has been monitoring the economic implications of a possible strike.

Tense negotiations led to accusations from both sides

The UAW late last month filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing GM and Stellantis of failing to bargain in good faith and in a timely fashion.

The automakers have denied the accusations.

Automakers push back

Ford, GM and Stellantis have said they negotiated in good faith and have pushed back against union demands they say are excessive — in some cases warning that big pay hikes could cut into investments needed to make the transition to electric vehicles.

Read the full story here.