By Anna Helhoski | NerdWallet
United Auto Workers is formally on strike. Negotiations failed this week between the union and the Big Three auto firms — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (a multinational conglomerate that features Chrysler).
The present strikes are focused in three areas:
- Ford: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.
- Stellantis: Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio
- GM: Wentzville Assembly Plant in Wentzville, Mo.
Other vegetation might comply with at any time. It’s a technique that UAW President Shawn Fain calls a “Stand-Up Strike,” he stated throughout a Facebook Live stream on Sept. 13.
Each of the Big Three has proposed pay raises nowhere close to what UAW is aiming for. Fain stated the businesses are additionally unwilling to bend to UAW’s request for elevated pension and retiree well being care.
The UAW represents practically 150,000 employees. The union joins different main strikes sweeping the U.S., together with Hollywood actors with SAG-AFTRA and movie and TV writers with the WGA.
To get a private perspective on the UAW strike, NerdWallet spoke with Nick Livick, a third-generation UAW member who works at General Motors’ Fairfax Assembly & Stamping in Kansas City, Kansas. He has labored on the plant since 2012 and is a pool employee, which implies he’s anticipated to stroll onto any job and study it shortly. We spoke about why U.S. auto manufacturing employees are demanding improved working situations, greater pay and higher advantages.
The following interview has been edited for size and readability.
NerdWallet: You’re a third-generation UAW member. Can you share a few of your loved ones’s background with the union?
Nick Livick: My grandfather began on the [American Motors Corp.] in Kenosha, Wisconsin, within the early ’60s. After that plant closed, he acquired employed at General Motors in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was capable of transfer his household due to the wage that the UAW had negotiated.
My mom acquired employed in 1996. I used to be nonetheless younger and I can keep in mind this second when issues began altering. You weren’t utilizing so many hand-me-downs; you bought to purchase your personal set of garments. You weren’t utilizing a pocket book from final yr; you bought new college provides.
When I acquired employed as a temp, my wage began out at $15. More than a decade after I acquired employed the beginning wage hasn’t modified a lot. It was so much simpler in 2012 to make that wage and reside.
“I know if we go out on strike, I’m going to lose money. But I never think about it like that because it’s about the worker that’s coming in after me so that they can have a better shot at their working life than I got.”
Nick Livick, third-generation UAW employee in Kansas City, Kansas.
These jobs have been gold normal jobs, however then through the Great Recession, when Janesville closed, we have been pressured to take loads of concessions from the government-mandated bailout. And we have been promised that we’d get these again as quickly as we acquired worthwhile once more. We gave up so much and we did it as a result of we wished these firms to succeed. There’s loads of satisfaction in the place we work and we put loads of satisfaction into the work to verify it’s a high quality automobile. But these advantages by no means got here again. There’s no retiree well being care, no pensions, we get much less sub pay and we get even much less trip time.
NerdWallet: Can you clarify extra about why the UAW is placing?
Nick Livick: At the top of the day, it comes right down to easy respect. Numerous the advantages that we’re at present preventing for we already had and we gave up for the corporate to save lots of them from their mismanagement.
They have temps that work as much as two years earlier than they get employed full time. During the pandemic, you noticed temps that have been getting near their two years, then unexpectedly none of us have been working. When layoffs occurred, temps began the clock over.
There’s an eight-year incomes scale even after you’ve been a temp for as much as two years. So you’re speaking a couple of third of your working profession the place they’re anticipating you to save lots of in your personal retirement. It’s simply inconceivable.
You even have the tiered work system the place I could possibly be working subsequent to any individual doing the identical job who just isn’t getting the identical pay or the identical advantages. Conditions are simply getting worse.
They can hardly discover anybody to return in to work as a result of beginning wages are solely $16.67. You can go right down to my native QuikTrip and receives a commission $19 an hour. Who’s going to do a tough, robust job like meeting work once they could possibly be working elsewhere for more cash? Long-term advantages are what ties individuals to the plant.
Then, you have a look at the work schedule. At Stellantis, they went on a 90-day vital standing main as much as contract negotiations the place they’re pressured to work 90 days straight. You’re working seven days per week, 12-hour shifts and might solely take sooner or later off a month. It’s simply insane.
There are days once I get up the place each of my fingers are numb due to the work and I simply can’t really feel them. And there’s nothing I can do apart from stretch it out or shake them. When you’re working insane hours, you haven’t any time to get better.
These jobs are robust. You’re fortunate in case your facility is climate-controlled, however even then, it’s not true air con so it’s nonetheless going to be 80 or 90 levels within the plant. And if you happen to’re not climate-controlled then if it’s 110 exterior, it’s going to be hotter than 110 within the manufacturing unit.
“We need these benefits for when we retire because our bodies are going to be broken.”
Nick Livick, third-generation UAW employee in Kansas City, Kansas.
We’re preventing to get again to a fundamental way of life. And not solely that, however to save lots of these jobs for the following technology. I do know if we exit on strike, I’m going to lose cash. But I by no means give it some thought like that as a result of it’s concerning the employee that’s coming in after me in order that they will have a greater shot at their working life than I acquired.
NerdWallet: Tell me about a number of the calls for that the UAW is making.
Nick Livick: We wish to finish the fee tiers. Like I stated, you bought individuals working for various wages, completely different advantages proper subsequent to one another. It’s a manner that administration makes use of to divide employees. I imply, ‘equal pay for equal work’ — I feel any employee can actually latch on to that and agree with it.
Retirees haven’t gotten a rise in over a decade. They’re being killed by inflation. We have to get cost-of-living changes — COLA — again as a result of we’ve seen what occurs as inflation erodes wages. It’s not unusual for an auto employee to have knee surgical procedures, elbow surgical procedure, hand surgical procedure, wrist surgical procedure, again surgical procedure. We want these advantages for after we retire as a result of our our bodies are going to be damaged.
It’s extremely bodily demanding work and it by no means stops. At an workplace, you already know, you’ll be able to sort of rise up and stretch your legs, stroll round, go to the toilet, cease and discuss to somebody if you happen to’re feeling slightly bit even mentally exhausted. But on the meeting line, it by no means stops coming. You’ve at all times acquired to do the following job.
There’s one demand that’s slightly bit extra ‘audacious,’ as Shawn [Fain] says, and it’s the 32-hour workweek for 40 hours of pay. It comes from the sheer quantity of insane hours that we’re working. As we transition to [electric vehicles], it’s going to take much less manpower. With all this elevated productiveness, employees ought to be allowed to expertise their lives exterior of labor. Right now, if you happen to’re working 90 days in a row, seven days per week and 12-hour days, you haven’t any way of life.
NerdWallet: Is there the rest that you just assume is essential for individuals to grasp about this strike?
Nick Livick: That we’re preventing for extra than simply us. It’s concerning the financial system on this nation. Everything that organized labor wins reverberates by means of all the financial system. So it’s not simply our battle. It’s all people’s battle.
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Anna Helhoski writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.