The United Auto Workers union launched a strike Friday, closing plants affecting Detroit’s three largest automakers and shaking the U.S. auto market.
The work stoppage saw nearly 13,000 workers, or about 10 percent of the union’s membership, walk out, bringing production lines at GM, Ford and Stellantis to a halt.
Although automakers had been operating their factories around the clock before the strike to build up inventory for dealers, analysts predict that supply will soon begin to dwindle.
Sam Fiorani, an analyst with consultancy AutoForecast Solutions, told The Associated Press that three weeks of strike action would start to drive up prices and siphon sales away from the big three companies.
“A work stoppage of three weeks or more,” Fiorani said, “would quickly drain excess supply, raising vehicle prices and pushing more sales to non-union brands.”
United Auto Workers members attend a solidarity rally as the UAW strikes against the Big Three automakers Friday in Wayne, Michigan.
Ford’s Wayne, Michigan, plant employs 3,300 workers and produces Ford Broncos and Rangers. Pictured is a 2024 Bronco
If union leaders fail to negotiate new contracts for their members, strikes will continue. Union President Shawn Fain said workers could strike at more plants if companies don’t come forward with better offers.
General Manager – Wentzville, Ohio
Ford – Wayne, Michigan
Stellantis – Toledo, Ohio
The auto industry accounts for about 3 percent of the nation’s GDP, and Detroit automakers account for about half of the total U.S. auto market.
The strikers targeted a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, a GM assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, and a Stellantis assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio.
The Ford plant employs approximately 3,300 people and manufactures Ford Broncos and Rangers.
The Toledo Jeep complex has approximately 5,800 workers and is involved in manufacturing Gladiators and Wranglers.
The GM Wentzville plant has about 3,600 workers and produces Chevrolet Colorado and Express, as well as GMC Canyon and Savana.
“It’s going to have an impact, especially when you look at the demand for these vehicles,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. CBS News. “We have some on the ground and we will continue to work to meet customer needs, but it has an impact.”
“In Wentzville, the chain is not moving and we are building two, maybe three very important products there,” she noted. “We just launched the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon. They are mid-size trucks that are in high, high demand.”
Workers are demanding wage increases of 36 percent over four years. Companies responded with increases ranging from 17.5 percent to 20 percent.
On Friday, Tesla was one of the only major automakers not to see its stock price fall.
United Auto Workers members walk on a picket line during a strike at the Ford Motor Company Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, Friday.
The Toledo Jeep complex has approximately 5,800 workers and is involved in manufacturing Gladiators and Wranglers. Pictured is a 2024 Jeep Wrangler
GM’s Wentzville, Ohio, plant makes Chevrolet Colorado and Express, as well as GMC Canyon and Savana. Pictured is the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado
Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, said Tesla CEO Elon Musk likely welcomed the news: “If the strike lasts more than three to four weeks, it will be moderately detrimental to GM and Ford’s EV strategy in 2024.”
“While the Detroit stalwarts are fighting the UAW, a bottle of champagne is being iced at Tesla headquarters,” he said.
Stellantis said in a statement Friday: “We are extremely disappointed by the refusal of UAW leadership to responsibly engage in reaching a fair agreement in the best interests of our employees, their families and our clients.
“We immediately placed the Company in emergency mode and will make all appropriate structural decisions to protect our North American operations and the Company.”
A prolonged strike by auto workers could have a significant impact on the economy. Anderson Economic Group estimates that a 10-day strike could result in a total economic loss of nearly $6 billion.