Episode 14: Auto Workers Prepare to Strike the Big 3

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September 7, 2023

The hot labor summer isn’t over yet.

In a week’s time, the United Auto Workers may launch a strike of 150,000 of its members if the Big Three automakers – Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) – fail to meet the workers’ demands in new contracts by September 14.

The Big Three made a quarter trillion dollars over the past decade. And with non-union electric vehicle and battery manufacturing on the rise in the United States, this may be a make or break moment for the union. So, with a more militant leadership at its helm, the UAW is demanding more than they have in a long time: serious wage increases; the elimination of tiers; the return of pensions, COLA, and retiree healthcare; and a 32-hour workweek.

For this episode, we unpack the auto workers’ demands, their stakes for the auto industry and the broader working class, and the burgeoning EV transition. We also explore how during this round of negotiations, the union is doing something it hasn’t done in a very long time. Inspired by the Teamsters, the UAW is conducting a contract campaign, with rallies, practice pickets, and all.

To discuss all this and more, we spoke with two UAW activists in Metro Detroit. Luigi Gjokaj was an assembly worker at Stellantis since 2010 and is the newly elected vice president of UAW Local 51. Jessie Kelly is a skilled moldmaker at General Motors and alternate committeeperson at UAW Local 160.

You’ll also hear from auto workers in Metro Detroit and Chicago, who attended rallies and practice pickets to drum up unity before the strike deadline.