Workers vote overwhelmingly to allow work stoppages

Members and supporters of the striking United Auto Workers attend a speech given by Vermont Sen.

Michael Weiland/CNBC

The union said on Friday that an average of 97% of the combined members of the automakers approved of the measure, but the final votes were still being counted. This is in line with the support during the negotiations Four years agoWhen 96% of the workers who voted supported permission to strike.

The “vote to authorize the strike” is part of the union’s constitution and is seen as a procedural step in negotiations. Voting results are historically high in favor of the mandate. Voting does not mean that there will be or will not be a strike.

“Our goal is not to strike. I want to make that absolutely clear. Our goal is to negotiate good agreements for our members,” UAW President Sean Fine said Friday during a Facebook Live broadcast. “But all we’ve tried to do with this is prepare everyone in case we have to take action to get a fair and just contract.”

However, Fine was much more vocal than the previous Guild Leaders about his ability to use multiplication As a weapon in their arsenal against companies during negotiations.

“Whether there’s a strike or not is up to Ford, GM and Stellants, because they know what our priorities are. We’ve been clear.”

UAW President Sean Fine (R) speaks with union member Jerome Buckley outside General Motors Factory Zero on July 12, 2023, in Detroit.

Michael Weiland/CNBC

These priorities are much richer than during previous contract negotiations between the two sides. The union’s demands include a 46% wage increase, the restoration of traditional pensions, an increase in the cost of living, a reduction in the work week to 32 hours from 40, and an increase in benefits for retirees.

The UAW said that 98% of hourly workers and 99% of wage workers at Ford voted in favor of permitting the strike. The GM approval rate is 96%, while the procedure approval rate at Stellantis is 95%. It was not immediately possible to determine the voter turnout nor the number of votes still to be counted.

Strikes can take various forms, including a national strike, where all workers under contract stop working, or stop working at certain factories due to local contract issues. A strike against the three automakers, Fine alluded to, would be the most impactful but also the most dangerous and expensive for the union.

UAW has more than $825 million in strike fund, which he uses to pay eligible striking members. Strike pay is $500 per week per member — up from $275 per week last year.

Assuming 150,000 or so UAW members are covered by contracts, strike pay would cost the union about $75 million a week. So the funding of $825 million would cover about 11 weeks. One caveat: This does not include health care costs that the union would cover, such as Temporary Cobra PlansThis is likely to drain the fund much more quickly.

National or targeted strikes on any automaker could hurt business. The company said at the time that the 40-day strike against GM during the last round of negotiations in 2019 resulted in a production loss of 300,000 vehicles. General Motors said that cost the automaker $3.6 billion in profits.

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