For the first time in history, the United Auto Workers is on strike with all three of the Detroit 3 automakers – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – at the same time, capping off a summer of hot labor.
Some key insights from the union negotiations:
The good old days of negotiating with unions in private are over. Now, companies must prepare for public battle across social media and in the news. It’s critical to have strategies to engage all stakeholders and deploy rapid response plans to correct disinformation when your message is under fire.
The labor movement is now bigger than any one company or industry and there has been a resurgence of labor activism. Workers are emboldened by tight labor markets and inflation, pushing for higher wages and better benefits across several high-profile campaigns spanning industries including railroad, logistics, Hollywood and manufacturing along with efforts to unionize in new areas such as banking and video games.
Terms of the contract are not the only issues that are front and center. Broader macro themes are taking shape across negotiations including income inequality, the executive to employee compensation gap, the threat of AI and technological disruption, and the shift to clean energy from traditional jobs.
All labor is politics, especially ahead of the 2024 election. Notably the UAW has so far withheld their endorsement for the next presidential race. With a strike underway, bothsides of the aisle have weighed in. President Joe Biden expressed support for union workers while attempting to strike a balance with the auto companies, who are embracing green energy policies and leading the shift to EVs. Additionally, former President Donald Trump has been courting the union’s endorsement.