Big Three Strike Continues, Ford Moves Closer To Deal

Big Three Strike Continues, Ford Moves Closer To Deal

The Big Three automakers in the U.S.—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis—have laid off non-union affiliated workers as the United Auto Workers union’s strike continues for a third week. 

“It is unfortunate the UAW’s decision to call a strike at GM Lansing Delta Township Assembly continues to have negative ripple effects,” GM said in a statement to CBS News. “The impacted team members are not expected to return until the strike has been resolved. Since we are working under an expired labor agreement, there are no provisions for company-provided sub-pay in this circumstance.”

Of the three manufacturers, the Ford Motor Company has been the closest to a deal, something it emphasized in a press release on Oct 3.

“We want to make sure our workers come out of these negotiations with two things – a record contract and a strong future,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s CEO. “We’ve put an offer on the table that will be costly for the company, especially given our large American footprint and UAW workforce, but one that we believe still allows Ford to invest in the future.”  

Ford also said that a sticking point for the UAW is Ford’s yet-to-be-constructed electric vehicle battery plants, which are subjected to extra scrutiny because they are a joint venture with a Korean company and plan to use Chinese technology. After Ford halted construction on the EV battery plants, UAW President Shawn Fain called the company’s choice “a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs.” 

There is, however, hope for a deal, Marik Masters writes in an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press. Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, told The Associated Press, that if the manufacturers and UAW each make concessions, a deal could come faster than expected. The automakers are under the impression that the union is responsible for getting workers at its as-of-yet unopened EV plants unionized, while the union wants the plants run according to UAW guidelines.

Wired analyzed the strikes using game theory, that is, a prediction of human behavior when two sides have competing interests.

Marc Robinson, who was once on GM’s payroll as an advisor in situations like these, told Wired an optimal strategy for the automakers to employ involves thinking through all of the potential moves from Fain and the UAW like a game of chess. Robinson sees the end of the strike occurring sometime between Halloween and Christmas, expecting the more labor-agreeable Ford Motor Company to wrap negotiations first.

For now, though, it seems we will have to wait and see which side moves to compromise first. 

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