UAW Strike Brings Car Market Uncertainty

Estimated read time 5 min read

For the first time ever, the union is striking on all three major American automakers at once.

The threat UAW has been making for weeks is becoming reality as approximately 13,000 union members stopped working the production lines at three different factories starting September 15. Just how this will affect the prices of new and used cars remains to be seen, but many are bracing for the worst.

Learn why the UAW strike could trigger a recession.

UAW members stopped assembling vehicles at the GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri where the Chevy Colorado and Express are made along with the GMC Canyon and Savana, Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly Complex where the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator are made, and the Ford Bronco line at the Michigan Assembly plane in Wayne, hitting all three automakers where it really hurts up front. Considering the vehicles which roll out of those factories are popular with consumers, this move is already angering many.

In an official press release, Ford claimed UAW provided “its first substantive counterproposal” right before the expiration of the previous one. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker also claimed it’s sent four proposals to UAW, with the last one being “historically generous.”

Before the strike began, a Stellantis release praised the “tremendous progress” made in negotiations, including offering Juneteenth as a paid holiday for all employees. One can’t imagine why UAW didn’t just sign right then and there.

GM CEO Mary Barra claims to have presented an “unprecedented economic package” to UAW, which apparently wasn’t good enough. Among the proposed items was a 20% pay increase “over the life of the agreement” and a cost-of-living protection for maximum-wage earners so they don’t get squeezed by inflation. Barra also dismissed the “heated rhetoric from UAW leadership” which she blames for stoking the fires of conflict.

Speaking with a CNN reporter, UAW President Shawn Fain made it clear if the Big Three aren’t willing to play ball members of the union will strike at even more production facilities. He also tried shaming automakers, saying that their claims about the union’s demands is “BS.” Considering this is the same man who threw Stellantis’ proposal letter in the garbage on camera, none of this is shocking.

Ultimately, this might amount to a lot of chest thumping and a little movement on both sides before an agreement is hammered out. Or the strikes could increase and last for weeks, maybe even months. The uncertainty of the situation has everyone on edge.

Some consumers are siding with UAW and sympathizing with its claims that the Big Three are greedy, flush with cash, and don’t care about their line workers. Resentment towards automakers has built after new car prices climbed steeply during the pandemic and have only somewhat deflated afterward.

However, some consumers seem to feel UAW members are dirty bums looking for exorbitant salaries from American automakers beleaguered by mounting foreign competition in the domestic market. They believe that an increase in assembly workers’ salaries will translate into even higher vehicle prices, squeezing everyone.

Not everyone holds such strident views, with many feeling a degree of sympathy for UAW and automakers, although the amount for each might vary. This certainly presents opportunity for both groups to turn public opinion in their favor.

Then there are people who believe both UAW and the Big Three are a bunch of crooks. As they say, you can’t please everyone, but this attitude could help spell a further erosion of overall market share held by Ford, GM, and Stellantis.

Tesla faithful believe this is the time for their beloved automaker to shine. Many have taken to X (the app formerly known as Twitter) and other social media platforms to shout from the rooftops that soon a Cybertruck will cost less than an F-150 or Silverado and boast better range. Nobody can fault their degree of faith.

We’re definitely in uncharted waters with this UAW strike, especially with the threat of it growing larger. Just how long the union is prepared to hold out, as well as the automakers, is a matter of much speculation. In the meantime, many consumers are upset about what this could mean for their new vehicle budget moving forward.

Images via Ford, GM, Stellantis

Steven Symes https://writerstevensymes.com/

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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