The social movement in the American automobile sector took on a new dimension on Friday, September 22, with an increase in the sites affected and the announcement of an upcoming visit by President Joe Biden on a strike picket, to try to undermine Donald's politeness. Trump.
The Democratic president, who readily describes himself as the primary supporter of American unions, and who had also been invited to make such a gesture, will travel to Michigan on Tuesday, as a sign of “solidarity”. “It’s time for a win-win deal” between automakers and the UAW union, he said in a message on X (formerly Twitter). The 80-year-old Democrat has already, several times, publicly estimated that manufacturers should pass on their “record profits” to employees. He had so far planned to spend the next week on a trip to the West.
But the opportunity is too good to defraud his great rival Donald Trump, who also wants to be the champion of workers and popular circles. The former Republican president, favorite in his party's primary for the 2024 presidential election, has in fact planned to go on a strike picket on Wednesday. And also in Michigan, an electorally key state. Enough to suddenly politicize a social movement which clearly amplified on Friday.
The strike spread to American car manufacturers General Motors and Stellantis, due to lack of progress in union negotiations, unlike Ford where “real progress” has been made. Since Friday midday (4:00 p.m. GMT), the 38 spare parts distribution centers of these two manufacturers have been affected. “We are not going to wait forever to obtain fair contracts from the Big Three”, nickname of the three major American manufacturers, launched Shawn Fain, president of the powerful union UAW, in a video.
These sites, located in twenty states in the United States, employ around 5,600 UAW members out of the 146,000 working for the three giants in Detroit, Michigan. The three factories on strike since September 15 will remain on strike, Mr. Fain said. These three sites - one for each of the "Big Three" - employ some 12,700 UAW members. This is the first strike affecting all three groups at the same time. “We invite and encourage anyone supporting our cause to join us on the picket lines, friends and family up to the President of the United States,” Shawn Fain said.
At this stage, the economic impact has been limited, but the extension of the movement at Stellantis and GM risks having greater repercussions, because these centers supply garages and dealers with spare parts for vehicles already sold, therefore directly affecting the general public. And “they generate significant profits, particularly for Stellantis,” noted Shawn Fain on CNBC, adding that the union was considering “many possible actions” for the future. The strikers each receive $500 per week from the union welfare fund instead of their usual salary.
General Motors, which has 18 additional sites affected, accused UAW leaders of "manipulating the bargaining process for their own benefit." Same accusation from Stellantis who “wonders if they ever intended to find an agreement in time”. Concerning Ford, Shawn Fain noted a “serious desire to reach an agreement” even if “serious problems” persist. The union is demanding in particular a salary increase of 40% over four years, corresponding to that which the group leaders have benefited from over the last four years.