Walking Out On The Auto Industry

The strike comes at an inflection point for automotive production.

A picket fence guards the perimeter of the quintessential suburban home. Pickets also periodically guard the perimeter of factories, preventing entry. We’re getting a live display of this practice at American auto plants.

After a summer of unsuccessful negotiations, the United Auto Workers (UAW) initiated strikes against the three large U.S. car makers last Friday. 13,000 walked off their assembly lines, with more of the UAW’s 146,000 members potentially to follow in the weeks ahead.

The union is seeking substantial improvements in compensation. A 40% pay increase over four years, automatic cost of living adjustments and broadened pension benefits are among the demands. The auto strike culminates a year full of labor actions, the product of tight job markets that have provided workers with renewed leverage.

The UAW has also taken notice of very strong earnings among the “big three” since all recovered from near bankruptcy in 2008. More recently, supply chain disruptions created product scarcity in 2021 and 2022, increasing selling prices and company profits.

Average US Vehicle Selling Prices