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US Automakers Face Union Pressure to Ease Inflation’s Bite on Wages

Contracts are up for renewal at GM, Ford, and Stellantis next year, and the negotiations will be a post-pandemic test for the UAW.
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Inflation and the Great Resignation have forced Amazon, Apple, and other major employers to raise wages in the past year. But for Detroit’s automakers, the bill likely won’t come due until 2023. That’s when General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis (née Chrysler) will sit down with the United Auto Workers to hammer out a new four-year labor contract for 150,000 employees.

When they last came to the table, in 2019, GM workers went on a 40-day strike that cost the company about $2.9 billion in lost earnings. The hot-button issues then were the use of temporary employees and a two-tier wage scale. Now rising prices are eroding wages at a time when automakers have enjoyed lush profits from record-high car prices fueled by vehicle shortages. That’s giving the UAW added leverage for next year’s contract negotiations, and union leaders will be under pressure to prove their mettle to a restive membership.