Autoworkers vote to strike in US, Canada
Autoworkers on both sides of the border have voted to authorize strikes. United Auto Workers recently approved strike authorization with 97% of the vote, and now roughly 150,000 workers are set to strike if GM, Ford, and Stellantis don’t meet their needs before contracts expire on Sept. 14. The workers want higher wages and equality between new and old hires, including restoring defined-benefit pension plans for newbies.
In Canada, Unifor autoworkers are in a similar situation. Their agreements, covering about 18,000 workers, expire on Sept. 18, and members of the companies involved have all voted between 98% and 99% to authorize a strike if no new deal is reached. Worker demands include more money and better pensions, but they are also focused on the future of work, with growing concerns about automation and the transition to electric vehicles – which has also caught the attention of UAW workers.
The last several months have seen waves of labor action, including a port workers strike in British Columbia and an averted strike by UPS workers. The labor disputes come as the cost of living remains high and workers brace for structural economic changes in manufacturing technologies.
An autoworkers strike among three of the top producers could put pressure on already eye-popping vehicle prices. Supply chains, interest rates, and other factors have pushed costs to new highs in the US and Canada. A strike could quickly reduce inventories.
An authorization vote doesn’t necessarily lead to striking; it just means the unions are in a legal position to do so if talks fall apart. We’re watching to see whether the sides can reach a deal before contracts expire in the coming weeks.