Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is urging the UAW union and Big Three Detroit Automakers to come to an agreement amid ongoing labor contract negotiations in order to avoid a potential strike. Whitmer expressed concern that the stalled negotiations could lead to a walk-off. The current labor contracts are set to expire next week.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Whitmer addressed the UAW contract negotiations in an interview on Thursday while visiting auto industry leaders in Japan, including Toyota, Denso Corp., and Aisin Corp.
“Any casual observer would recognize that there’s reason to be concerned about where it’s headed,” Whitmer said in regard to the UAW negotiations.
Whitmer indicated that she is talking to leadership at the Big Three Detroit automakers (GM, Ford, and Stellantis) as well as leadership at the UAW in the hope that “they stay at the table and come up with an agreement that supports workers and averts a strike.” Whitmer added that it was “unclear” what more the state could do at this point.
A recent study published by AEG indicates that a ten-day UAW strike at all three automakers could cost the economy more than $5 billion.
Negotiations between the UAW and GM have been contentious, with the latest proposal from GM characterized as an “insult” by UAW President Shawn Fain. GM’s proposal includes additional paid time off, a 16-percent increase in pay, and other benefits.
The UAW filed an unfair labor practice charge against GM last week, accusing GM of not negotiating in good faith and employing delay tactics. The current labor contract is set to expire on September 14th.
Among the UAW’s demands are a 46-percent pay increase and a 32-hour work week, demands which automakers say would increase annual expenses by $80 billion and would possibly destroy the companies in the long-term. UAW President Fain says the demands are justified in the face of record profits.