- After a union contract expired, General Motors workers represented by UAW announced they would strike for higher wages, affordable healthcare, job security, profit sharing and a "defined path to permanent seniority for temps," according to a press release from the union. "After months of negotiations we arrived at only 2% of provisions agreed upon," a UAW press official told HR Dive via email. The strike began Sept. 16.
- "Negotiations are continuing. Our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business," GM told HR Dive in an emailed statement on Sept. 17. At negotiations earlier that day, GM offered a 2% pay raise and announced it would cut health benefits for striking workers, Detroit Free Press reported.
- However, workers want a pay raise that will offset the cost of the cut benefits and restore earning power lost as a result of the company’s bankruptcy a decade ago, union officials told the publication. "We are committed to a strong contract at GM that recognizes our UAW members, who make some of the greatest products in the world and make GM so profitable," UAW said in its release about the strike.
The strike of nearly 50,000 workers across the U.S., now in its third day, is the largest strike in any industry in the U.S. since 2007, CNN reported. Other outlets have speculated that the strike could cost GM near $100 million a day — or kick Michigan into a recession. The strike is one of several in the last year that indicates that talent in many sectors, including education, hospitality and grocery, may be willing to push back when they feel their needs are not met.
Among workers' demands were higher wages and a path to employment for temporary GM workers. Wages for GM workers were cut and more temp workers were bought on to pull the company out of bankruptcy in 2009, The New York Times reported. Today, in an era of proliferating AI, organizations in automaton-prone industries like manufacturing still rely heavily on contract labor as they integrate automated processes more permanently into workflows.
With wage growth still slow and inconsistent — and uncertainty lingering around new tech and the future of contract labor — employers may find that more workers want a say in the future of their organizations. Workers at Google, for example, made headlines when they walked out at the end of 2018 — a movement that has precipitated a number of changes from Google's leadership team, including a new website for employee complaints. Workers at Amazon also recently announced they would be walking out over company practices that may have contributed to climate change, various outlets reported. And more broadly, employees are more willing to demand their employers take a stand on various societal issues.