UAW members cast their votes on authorizing strike

The auto industry is a driving force of the economy but work could come to a halt if the big three and United Auto Workers don't agree on a contract.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 1:15 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Thousands gathered at the union halls of Local 12 and Local 14 on Tuesday to cast their votes on whether or not to authorize a strike against the big three automakers.

“When we see all the profit that they’re making off of us, off of the workers, we want it back. We want it back,” said Robert Vasquez, a Local 12 union member.

The United Auto Workers Local 12 parking lot turned into a party of sorts on the morning of Aug. 22 as members cast their strike authorization votes.

“I’m voting yes,” said Nichole Hardiman, a Local 12 union member. “I feel comfortable telling you. They need to meet our demands, Stellantis.”

Union leaders say the reason they’re voting on the strike goes back years to when UAW made contract concessions to help out General Motors and Chrysler, now part of Stellantis, after the companies filed for bankruptcy.

“Our members did the right thing in 2008, 2009, and then after took concessions for, again, the next three contracts,” said Bruce Baumhower, President of UAW Local 12. “Now the company’s reporting historic profits, and they ought to share those with the workers.”

Their demands include eliminating the two-tiered wage system, in which new hires are paid significantly lower wages for the same work, restoration of cost of living adjustments and giving all workers pensions.

“It might seem like a lot right now, but if the companies were fair to us throughout the time, it wouldn’t be such a big ask,” said Tony Totty, President of UAW Local 14.

“We’ve been working hard with the UAW every day to ensure we get this agreement right for all our stakeholders,” said General Motors in a statement. “We take that responsibility very seriously, and we continue to bargain in good faith each day.”

”The discussions between the Company and the UAW’s bargaining team continue to be constructive and collaborative with a focus on reaching a new agreement,” said a spokesperson for Stellantis. “One that better positions the business to meet the challenges of the U.S. marketplace and secures the future for all of our employees, their families and our company.”

Voting will continue until 8 p.m. on Aug. 22 with the results expected to be available on Aug. 24.

If union members vote yes on the strike authorization, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the union is going to strike, only that union leaders have the authority to call a strike if contract negotiations go south.

If they do go on strike, that won’t happen until after the UAW’s current contract expires on Sept. 14.