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Automotive workers stand strong throughout the strike

The United Auto Workers strike has rippled the country with its economic and social effects. Starting Sept. 15,2023 about 12,700 workers from the union walked off work from their big three companies: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. By now, around 18,000 of the 145,000 workers have joined in on the strike, shutting down one assembly plant at each company.

The strike is not only affecting union members, but people all across the globe. As the strike continues, and as plants shut down, it’s becoming harder to build and get specific parts for cars, slowing down the distribution process. With news of the strike being spread throughout the nation; parents, community members, and students such as Elly Beckerman ‘25, have taken an interest.“I heard about the strike through the news,” Beckerman said. “I also heard some of my friends talking about it.”

Many students have families who work for Ford, or any of the big three companies associated with the strike, and have an inside look on what working for these companies is like.“I think that the automobile industry has this expectation where if you aren’t smart enough to be a doctor, or just want a stable secure job why not work for Ford,” Beckerman said. “I think a lot of people are working at Ford and they aren’t getting treated well and these industries, General Motors, Chrysler, etc, all have a lot of money.”

Beckerman’s family has a long history of working for Ford, with her grandfather working there many years ago. Times have changed, and many have seen the progression on how companies treat their employees.“Considering how expensive the standard of living is nowadays,” Beckerman said. “I think it’s fair for them to strike for more money.”

Every several years the OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturers, settle on their labor agreements with the UAW, United Auto Workers. A few months prior to the strike they started working on their contract that expired a couple of weeks ago. When they were not able to come to an agreement, the UAW decided they would have three power plants go on strike. The first three to close were in Ohio, Missouri, and Michigan. When no solutions were visible they shut down more plants, and currently 38 are on strike. There are multiple reasons they haven’t come to an agreement and Glenn Stevens, Executive Director MISHauto, talks about a few of them.

“So the first one is increased wages, so more pay. The second one is an end to what is called tiered employment. There’s a two-tier pay system, so some workers start at a lower level than others. They want to put it into the tiered employment system,” Stevens said. “Overall, they’re looking for better employment benefits, which they gave up during the Great Recession. As we move towards electric vehicles, the union wants to make sure that their jobs are protected, because there are less components and potentially less labor used to build electric vehicles.”

Every week, the big three companies each are losing $150 million due to the strike. By now, the automotive strike is not only hurting consumers and workers but the manufacturers as well.“While the UAW is deserving of changes to their compensation structure, and everyone is in agreement with that, and as I pointed out the vehicle companies have made offers to do that. At the same time, we compete here in Michigan, with the companies that exist here, like Ford and GM, on a very national and a very global competitive market. So these companies have to be able to compete,” said Stevens. “Their cost structures have to stay in line with their competition. This is the balancing act of how can they improve the lives of the workers by providing them more.At the same time being competitive, and that’s really at the heart of the issue here that they’re trying to work out.”

The Tower reached out to the United Auto Workers and was not able to get in contact for an interview.

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About the Contributors
Audrey MacGillis '25
Audrey MacGillis '25, Copy Editor
Second-year staffer, Audrey MacGillis ’25 spends her time doing various activities. Outside of school, she is a hardworking competitive swimmer for South, Grosse Pointe Gators, and the Grosse Pointe Park Mutants in the summer. In her free time, she listens to music or enjoys reading. Her favorite artists are Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers, who she even got to meet. “Now that were back into the school routine, I’m excited to be able to post stories and have fun writing again,” MacGillis said. Alongside her fun activities, she is excited to be a copy editor for the first time. “I love Journalism because it gets me outside of my box and I’m able to talk to a lot of new people,” MacGillis said.
Mira Haurani '25
Mira Haurani '25, Web Editor
First year staffer, Mira Haurani ’25 has many interests aside from her Tower duties. She’s either in the pool swimming for South’s girls team, on the tennis court playing or off traveling somewhere. Aside from her many activities she’s a part of, Haurani is excited to start her first on Tower as a Web editor. “I’m excited to learn how to actually post (on web), and actually post stories,” Haurani said. She is excited for her upcoming year of writing, editing and posting stories. Aside from her duties as web editor, Haurani is excited to be able to collaborate with other people.
Harrison Balfour ’24
Harrison Balfour ’24, Supervising Photographer
If you happen to see Harrison outside of school, chances are he either has a skateboard beneath him or a camera in hand—possibly even both. As Supervising Photographer for the Tower this year, Balfour has a knack for finding and capturing the beautiful moments of everyday life, one that he hopes will someday land him a job with a newspaper publication. For now though, Tower is enough for Balfour, who sees it as an opportunity to tell unique stories and talk to people who have something to say.“I was always drawn to (Journalism),” Balfour said. “I like telling stories and talking to people-- I feel like I just like people.”When it comes to his journalistic work, however, nothing inspires Balfour more than photography.“I like taking photos (and) capturing a beautiful moment that can never happen again,” Balfour said. “It’s a one-time thing that only I saw and captured.”

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