Ford laid off 600 workers at its Michigan plant Friday, less than 24 hours after the start of a historic strike by the United Auto Workers.
UAW union members at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis stopped work at midnight Thursday, marking the first time all three have gone on strike simultaneously.
Workers walked out of three factories – one for each of the Big Three automakers – in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio, and those protesting outside the factories were met with enthusiastic cheers from their fellow union members.
Union leaders are demanding a 40 percent pay rise over four years, pointing out that their bosses have received similar increases.
GM CEO Mary Barra said Friday that unions need to be “realistic” and defended her own $30 million salary, a 34 percent increase over four years.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra defended her $30 million salary on Friday.
United Auto Workers of Louisville, Kentucky, are rallying Friday in support of UAW members striking in Detroit.
United Auto Workers member Patricia Kings attends a rally in Detroit on Friday
“My compensation is 92 percent based on company performance,” she told CNN.
“When the business is doing well, everyone is doing well.”
She said critics need to “look at the entire compensation program.”
Barra added: “We think we have a very competitive offer on the table, and that’s why we want to come back and make it happen.”
She said GM’s team was “the best in the world” and praised it for its “resilience” but said she was “disappointed and frustrated” by the impasse.
Barra, 61, said GM was offering wage increases of up to 21 percent, job security and health care.
“Our team is ready to be at the table and we need UAW leadership to come back to the table so we can resolve these issues and get people back to work.”
Bernie Sanders, speaking at a rally Friday, retorted: “I ask Ms. Barra, do you have any idea what it means for one of your workers to survive on $17 an hour? “
Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12 in Toledo, Ohio, said the strike was long overdue.
“What drives us crazy is that we went bankrupt with Barack Obama in 2008 and early 2009,” he said.
“And the president told us that we had to give up huge concessions for them to get government support so they could get their businesses back on track.” We did it. And it hasn’t been reversed.
“When we emerged from bankruptcy, our starting salary at Jeep was $15.78.
“Fifteen years later, it’s $15.78. There is something wrong there.
Bernie Sanders told a rally in Detroit Friday that he doubts automaker CEOs know what it means to live on $17 an hour.
Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12 in Toledo, Ohio, said the strike was long overdue, noting that the starting wage at Jeep was $15.78 an hour.
The UAW leadership said it planned to resume negotiations on Saturday.
But Ford is already feeling the effects and has laid off 600 people at its Wayne, Michigan, assembly plant.
The company said the layoffs would be temporary and would affect people working in the body construction department and what it calls the “integrated stamping southern sub-assembly area” – stamping being shaping of flat sheets in specific dimensions for automobile manufacturing.
“This layoff is a consequence of the strike in the final assembly and painting departments of the Michigan assembly plant, because the components built by these 600 employees use materials that must be e-coated to more protection,” Ford said.
Ford uses E-coating – electro-deposition coating – as a means of painting and finishing parts.
“The e-coating has been completed in the painting department, which is on strike. »
Similarly, GM told some 2,000 workers at a Kansas auto plant that their plant would likely be shut down next week due to a lack of parts, due to the strike at a nearby plant.
At a rally Friday afternoon and on picket lines throughout the day, union members protested loudly and took particular aim at a two-tier wage system that left new recruits without workers’ wages and benefits. seasoned.
Workers stand outside the Ford Michigan assembly plant Friday.
UAW President Shawn Fain marches with UAW members in downtown Detroit on Friday.
It was unfair and favored investors over workers, they said.
“We are not going to destroy the economy. The truth is we are going to destroy the billionaire economy,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.
The union is demanding a bigger share of profits, shorter work weeks, the restoration of defined benefit pensions and greater job security as automakers shift to electric vehicles.
UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who is leading the negotiations with Ford, told a rally of hundreds of UAW workers in downtown Detroit Friday afternoon that recent talks have made “good progress, but we still have a lot to do.”
Joe Biden, who describes himself as the most pro-union president in history, has called on automakers to reward workers just as executive salaries have increased.
“Companies have made significant offers, but I think they should go further to ensure that record profits translate into record contracts,” he said.