United Auto Workers (UAW) union members have now voted in favor of a strike should negotiations with Detroit-Three car manufacturers fail to produce an acceptable contract by their September 14 deadline.
The UAW began tallying votes from workers across Stellantis, General Motors and Ford last week under orders from President Shawn Fain. By Friday, the organization announced that 97% of union members had voted to strike against their corresponding automaker.
The UAW has been preparing workers for a walkout since negotiations began in July. Days before the organization began counting votes, President Shawn Fain led union members in a mock demonstration outside of a Stellantis factory to “practice” an eventual strike.
“Today, I want you guys to have some fun practicing for what we’re going to have to do if these companies don’t give us our fair share,” he told participants.
Among the organization’s demands, pay increases and job security guarantees have taken center stage throughout negotiations. The UAW is looking to boost worker pay by 46% over the course of four years, with an initial 20% hike due immediately after a contract is signed with Detroit car manufacturers. Union members are also hoping to protect their positions in the wake of the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles, which take less manpower to produce.
A UAW strike against all three automakers could cost the industry up to $5 billion in as little as 10 days, according to consultancy firm Anderson Economic Group. Although the organization’s vote is largely a formality, union members are now fully committed to abandoning their positions should talks fail.