UAW Workers Vote to Authorize Strikes Against Detroit’s Big Three

The vote on America’s working people’s holiday was significant: on Monday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union voted to authorize strikes against the nation’s Big Three automakers. The vote was held in the runup to previous agreement expirations: contracts between the UAW and about 152,000 workers at GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler will expire at midnight on September 15.

“We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future,” said UAW president Gary Jones in a statement yesterday.

In the statement, the union said 96.4 percent of workers at General Motors voted to authorize a strike, while the vote was 95.98 percent with Ford workers and 96 percent with Fiat Chrysler workers, according to a report by the Associated Press. Subsequent to the vote the UAW indicated that General Motors will be the target company for this year’s contract talks with all three automakers. While GM will be the focus of the bargaining, any deal put in place will affect all three companies. It’s believed that GM is being targeted as the focus because it’s the most profitable of the three automakers yet is has recently chosen to shut down four domestic manufacturing facilities, is underutilizing several others and builds the largest proportion of vehicles for the North American market in Mexico.

The AP emphasized that there is no indication as of right now that a strike involving work stoppage will take place, and these efforts are in line with regular business operations for the UAW.

“The strike authorization vote is a normal part of the bargaining process, and it doesn’t mean that there will be a work stoppage,” according to the AP. “But tensions are high in contract talks this year because the automakers are making billions in profits and workers want a bigger slice. The companies, though, want to get closer to parity with foreign automakers with U.S. factories that are mainly in the South.”