DETROIT (AP) — About 13,000 U.S. auto workers stopped making vehicles and went on strike Friday after their leaders couldn’t bridge a giant gap between union demands in contract talks and what Detroit’s three automakers are willing to pay.
Members of the United Auto Workers union began picketing at a General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Ford factory in Wayne, Michigan, near Detroit; and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
It is the first time in the union’s 88-year history that all three companies were targeted simultaneously.
The strikes will likely chart the future of the union and of America’s homegrown auto industry at a time when U.S. labor is flexing its might and the companies face a historic transition from building internal combustion automobiles to making electric vehicles.
If the strikes drag on, shortages could push vehicle prices higher and strain an economy already bruised by inflation. Walkouts may even become a factor in next year’s presidential election, testing Joe Biden’s claim to be the most union-friendly president in American history.
“Workers all over the world are watching this,” said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 60 unions with 12.5 million members.
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