Auto workers are on the sixth day of their strike against the Big Three automakers: Ford (F), General Motors (GM), and Stellantis (STLA). As of now, there has been no notable progress in negotiations spearheaded by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, with plans to extend the strike to additional plants if a labor contract agreement is not reached by tomorrow — Friday, September 22.
Yahoo Finance Live's Seana Smith and Brad Smith sit down with The Nation Correspondent John Nicholas to discuss the UAW's demands, concerns surrounding workers' job security, and the strike's potential expansion.
"The union has been flexible on some of this," Nicholas says. "Yes, they made a very, very big ask, I think, understanding that they would step back from that to some extent."
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SEANA SMITH: Well, the United Auto Workers strike entering its sixth day with no real progress in negotiations. Now, the Union saying that Stellantis's new contract offer lacks job security guarantees. And General Motors as well as the other big three really pushing back. We had GM CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday saying that the proposed salary demands made by the UAW were too costly. Now both Stellantis and General Motors are set to lay off workers, citing that the strikes are a cause of this.
Now, the President of the UAW Shawn Fein saying that strikes may expand tomorrow if we don't see significant progress. Joining us now, we want to bring in John Nichols, national affairs correspondent at The Nation. John, it's good to see you here. So some pushback from both sides. It still seems like the union and the big three Detroit automakers are very far apart on these talks with the threat that the strike may expand tomorrow. How likely is that?
JOHN NICHOLS: I think it's very likely. I don't expect that they'll have an agreement by tomorrow. I did note in the Stellantis statement and some of the other talk about the negotiations with Stellantis that there does seem to be some movement there. And there certainly are counteroffers going back and forth.
So these are real negotiations. And I think that is within the realm of reason that you can get a settlement not in the too distant future. But by Friday, I doubt that very much. So I do expect that UAW President Shawn Fein will expand the number of plants that are striking.
BRAD SMITH: Is it clear whether or not there are any concessions that are beginning to make themselves apparent as part of the negotiations?
JOHN NICHOLS: Yeah. I mean, on both sides, I think you've seen some progress. The talk is that the companies in their counter-offers have upped some of their financial offers. The union has been flexible on some of this. Yes, they made a very, very big ask I think understanding that they would step back from that to some extent. So I do think there's elements of movement.
But there's still this real problem. And this goes beyond the finance. So much of the focus on this strike has been on the financials, on the ask for a big pay hike, the ask for a return or restoration of cost of living increases. But the other side of this is long term job security and what will be done as electric vehicles are introduced to a much greater extent.
Will those electric vehicles be built in union plants or will they be built in the North? There's all sorts of complex questions related to that. Even questions about battery production, you know, how that will be done and who it will be done by. And all of that sort of floats behind any wage discussion. And I think those are some of the really tough areas to resolve.