The United Auto Workers has lowered its pay increase demand to 36% from 40%, but Detroit’s automakers don’t think much of the offer, according to people familiar with the offer.
(Bloomberg) — The United Auto Workers has lowered its pay increase demand to 36% from 40%, but Detroit’s automakers don’t think much of the offer, according to people familiar with the offer.
Over the weekend, the UAW made its first movement off its 40% raise request. It is now asking for a series of increases over nearly five years that would start with an 18% boost and then alternate between 5% and 4% annually over the subsequent years of the contract, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions. The companies still see the demand as boosting labor costs so high that it would threaten their viability, according to the sources.
General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV are facing a contract deadline just before midnight on Sept. 14 for nearly 150,000 US hourly workers. UAW President Shawn Fain has threatened to strike all three automakers simultaneously — a first in the union’s history — if he doesn’t have a deal by then. “The deadline is the deadline,” Fain said in an interview last month.
The automakers and the union still remain far apart on several issues, including the UAW’s request for a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, the people said. The union also is asking for a 32-hour work week, resumption of traditional pensions, restoration of retiree health care and a boost in pension payments.
Read More: Even a Brief UAW Strike Seen Causing Billions in Economic Damage
The automakers have said the union’s original 40% pay increase demand actually totals 46%, as each year’s raise would come on top of prior years’ gains.
Fain went on a Facebook Live Sept. 8 displaying a trash can marked “Big Three Proposals” and said that’s where the automakers’ contract offers belong.
In Washington, Senator Bernie Sanders said that if there is a strike, he is prepared to travel to Michigan to show support for the striking workers
“In the last 20 years, real inflation-accounted wages for auto workers have gone down by 30%” said the independent from Vermont who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “So clearly while the large corporations, the Big Three, are making billions in profits, the workers are struggling. I’m going to do everything I can to stand with the workers.”
Automotive News reported earlier that the union had lowered its raise demand to the mid-30% range.
–With assistance from Laura Litvan.
(Adds Bernie Sanders comments from the seventh paragraph)
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