Caught in the Crossfire: UAW Strike Might Affect Mercedes-Benz

The Detroit Three (Ford, GM, and Stellantis) can't seem to figure out a way to bring things back to normal. The unionized workers are determined to get what they want, which includes a 32-hour four-day workweek. But the automotive industry is heavily interconnected, and now Mercedes-Benz might have to suffer.
Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 10 photos
Photo: Florin Profir / autoevolution edit
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We're nearing the eighth day of serious protests against the Big Three. UAW members are not backing down. They also did not accept the updated offers the automakers brought to the table.

The employees seem dead set on exactly what they asked for, which is:
  • Eliminating worker tiers;
  • 36% increase in pay over four years;
  • The reintroduction of the so-called "COLA" that forces companies to update wages so they can keep up with the cost of living;
  • The restoration of traditional pensions;
  • The reintroduction of retiree medical benefits;
  • Transform temporary workers into fully-fledged employees;
  • A working family protection program that enables a continuous type of payment to UAW members after a plant closes;
  • An undefined pay increase for retirees;
  • A 32-hour four-day workweek and better overtime pay.

On top of that, workers' representatives point out that stock buyback programs do nothing good for the US economy because they only "make corporate execs richer." The Big Three spent billions on repurchasing shares.

Ford, GM, and Stellantis made counteroffers, but the UAW has accepted none. GM, for example, submitted its fifth such plan. It described it as "a record offer."

Most recently, a leak surfaced that showed a UAW plan to make the Big Three suffer for prolonged periods if they would not cave to the worker's demands.

General Motors was the first to respond to that information and blamed UAW leadership for always intending to "cause months-long disruption, regardless of the harm it causes to its and their communities."

But the troubles can expand outside of Detroit. A local UAW unit decided to strike at a ZF Group facility in Alabama. That's where front and rear axles for Mercedes-Benz vehicles are manufactured. If the ZF workers are determined, they could inflict damages at the German brand's facility as well.

Mercedes-Benz manufactures the GLS, GLE, GLE Coupe, EQE SUV, and EQS SUV in Vance, Alabama. It's not entirely clear what models in particular would be affected by UAW's ZF strike, per Automotive News.

Some 190 ZF unionized workers ask for better health benefits, ending tiered contracts, and better wages.

But if they don't get what they want and the problem becomes severe enough, UAW could disrupt four automakers. It's not something the car buyer wants, but it's also not a thing desired by the targeted auto brands. If they don't figure it out soon, the likes of Tesla and Rivian could start eating up their market share.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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