DETROIT (Reuters) – The Detroit Three automakers and the union representing the companies’ U.S. hourly workers on Friday entered the final hours to reach new labor agreements before the current coordinated strike expands to include more plants.
The UAW last week launched unprecedented, simultaneous strikes at one assembly plant each of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler parent Stellantis, but analysts expect any wider strike will include plants that build highly profitable pickup trucks such as Ford’s F-150, GM’s Chevy Silverado and Stellantis’ Ram.
About 12,700 workers walked out at plants in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio, which produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Colorado, alongside other popular models. UAW President Shawn Fain has warned that more of the union’s 146,000 members who work at the Detroit Three will join them if new deals are not reached before noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Friday.
The standoff is fueling worries about prolonged industrial action that could disrupt production and ripple through the supply chain and dent U.S. economic growth. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday shows significant support by Americans for the striking auto workers.
Fain is due to address members on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. EDT, at which time he will outline the plants that will join the strike two hours later.
Fain has said the Detroit automakers have not shared their huge profits with workers while enriching executives and investors.
GM President Mark Reuss this week rejected those claims, saying the current offer to the union would be generous and the company’s profits have been reinvested in the transition to electric vehicles.
The automakers have proposed 20% raises over 4-1/2 years, while the UAW is seeking 40%.
The union also wants to end a tiered wage structure that it says has created a large gap between newer and older employees.
S&P said the strikes, which began on Sept. 15, were highly likely to last several weeks, potentially cutting third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product by 0.39% and causing “upheaval” across global automotive supply chains.
GM, Ford and Stellantis have said they are making contingency plans for further U.S. work stoppages.
Ford reached a last-minute deal to avoid a walkout at its Canadian operations late on Tuesday. Unifor, which represents about 5,600 Canadian auto workers, had been threatening to go on strike at all three Ford plants in the country.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Joseph White in Detroit; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis)
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