Workers at the three largest (or “Big Three”) automakers in the United States have voted by a majority of 97 percent to authorize a potential strike of 144,000 autoworkers. The United Auto Workers (UAW) announced the nationwide voting results on August 25. In recent months, the UAW has kicked off a contract campaign to win worker demands in contract negotiations for autoworkers at the three largest car manufacturers: General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford. At these three companies, 144,000 UAW workers are employed and are covered by one contract. It is set to expire on September 14, after which workers will strike if the auto companies have not met their demands.
The union has held practice pickets at auto plants in Detroit, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky. Practice pickets are trade union actions in which workers “practice” for a strike by holding down a picket line prior to the start of their shifts. This tactic was employed successfully by Teamsters workers in their historic contract campaign at UPS.
On August 24, the UAW announced that they had brokered a tentative agreement with Ultium Cells LLC, which employs UAW workers to manufacture electric car batteries for General Motors. The Big Three for years have been using joint ventures such as Ultium Cells to employ an underclass of workers who are not covered by the Big Three master contract and are therefore not entitled to the same benefits. The tentative agreement will raise wages by more than 20 percent for Ultium Cells workers.