On April 28, 2021, 95% of United Auto Workers (UAW) members across General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis plants in the United States voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strikes if their trade dispute with the three automakers cannot be resolved through negotiations.
The strike authorization vote is a common but largely symbolic step in the union’s effort to set a strike deadline. It still gives both sides time to continue negotiating, as UAW President Rory Gamble recently said that the union planned to settle deals with the three automakers without a strike.
If the negotiations fail to reach an agreement, however, the UAW retains the ability to launch a strike if majority of the affected union members vote to do so. Such a move could lead to significant disruptions in supply chains and production.
The UAW has been in contract negotiations with GM, Ford, and Stellantis since mid-February 2021, projecting demands that include increases in wages, improved benefits, job security, and health and safety for workers at plants. Under federal law (the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947), the union is prohibited from striking until all parties have engaged in a good-faith dispute resolution period, which has yet to begin. In any case, the strike authorization vote gives the parties a better chance of reaching agreement prior to any strikes occurring.