The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (also known as the Wagner Act) guarantees the rights of private sector employees to organize unions, engage in collective bargaining and take collective action such as strikes. Employees have the right to strike when they want better wages, working conditions, benefits and/or working hours. In the meantime, while employees are striking until their demands are met, this takes a significant financial and reputable toll on the company. This can result in the company losing millions of dollars each week and leaving them in a bad position.
The UAW's strike comes at a time when there is a lot of union activity across the U.S. with some workers winning big new contracts, including UPS drivers and airline pilots. Even Hollywood actors are also on strike, while Las Vegas hospitality workers and Kaiser Permanent health care workers are threatening to walk off their jobs. What is really going on here?
Well, the UAW strike against Detroit Three auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis started in mid-September 2023 after contract negotiations failed. The negotiations included: wage increases and the length of the workweek. The union is demanding a 36% pay increase combined over the four-year duration of a new contract, as well as a 32-hour workweek at 40-hour pay.
Because this UAW strike has now expanded to other locations across the United States and at the time of this post up to 25,000 UAW workers, this will be ongoing until an agreement is reached.