NEW YORK – Unionized auto workers in the United States launched a strike at three factories in a historic walkout after failing to reach an agreement with Detroit’s “big three” automakers.
With the automotive sector being an important part of the world’s largest economy, here is a summary of the implications.
Millions of jobs
The automotive ecosystem generates some $1 trillion in the U.S. economy each year, or nearly 5% of gross domestic product, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.
The group, which represents the auto industry, said in a 2022 report that the sector supports 9.6 million jobs.
In its industry report, the alliance noted that “more than $220 billion in federal and state revenues are generated each year from the manufacturing, sale and servicing of automobiles.”
And the sector is benefiting from the rapid growth of electric car maker Tesla, which delivered 1.3 million electric vehicles in 2022.
“The Big Three”
General Motors, Ford and Stellantis are nicknamed the “big three” American automakers and have production facilities in the Detroit, Michigan area.
They operate 60 percent of the nation’s assembly plants, according to the American Automotive Policy Council, which represents the three companies.
The United Auto Workers strike only involves 12,700 of the 150,000 members represented by the union, but the action could expand in the coming days.
A major risk in the event of a prolonged strike is “deterioration of the supply chain and financial health of parts and equipment suppliers,” said Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA.
Michael Pearce of Oxford Economics added in a note that “a complete walkout would reduce motor vehicle production by more than 30%.”
Scale of Operations
GM employs more than 92,000 people in the United States, according to its website, and delivered 2.3 million vehicles in the country last year under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands.
In 2022, its revenues increased by 23% to $157 billion, while its net profit rose to $9.9 billion.
Ford, founded 120 years ago, employs some 177,000 people, including about 86,000 in the United States.
It manufactures the Ford brand, including the F-150 pickup truck, which the company calls “America’s Truck” because it is assembled entirely in the United States and has been the country’s most popular vehicle for more than four decades.
Meanwhile, American-European auto giant Stellantis, whose brands include Jeep, Chrysler and Peugeot, employs 264,000 people worldwide.
In 2022, it recorded a profit of 16.8 billion euros.
Foreign car manufacturers
Besides U.S. automakers, international automakers produced 4.4 million vehicles in the United States last year, according to Autos Drive America.
Their production volume has increased by more than 85 percent in more than two decades.
And this increased their share of US production from 1% in 1979 to 45% in 2022.
Global brands that have factories in America include BMW, Kia, Honda, Lexus, Volkswagen and Hyundai.
In 2022, international automakers directly employed 156,000 American workers.
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