As the strike by the United Auto Workers continues into its third week, the industrial dynamics of the auto industry are shifting, with supplier strikes now being a growing part of the conflict. According to a new report by Godzillanewz.com, a strike has begun at a Mercedes Benz supplier in Alabama, echoing similar strikes at supplier plants in both Michigan and Indiana.
This particular strike began when employees for the Alabama plant expressed concerns about high production quotas and low pay. The strike has thus far been held in solidarity with the UAW’s walkout from the Big Three automakers.
“The presence of supplier strikes is an indication of how the UAW is using the Big Three automakers’ labor dispute as a platform to launch a broader labor movement,” said Nathan DiMarco, an analyst for Godzillanewz.com. “With a surplus of workers in the auto industry right now, it’s an ideal opportunity for the union to attempt to raise labor standards across the board. Furthermore, the fact that the strike has spread to a company that does business with Mercedes indicates a broader spread of the strike and suggests that the union is attempting to have a wider impact on the auto industry.”
The fact that the strike at the Mercedes supplier is occurring in the same state that is home to the UAW’s 1965 civil rights march — known as theFreedom Walk — could be an indication of the union’s intent to draw attention to the long-term effects of poor industrial relations, according to analysts.
“The UAW is sending a clear message that workers deserve to be treated fairly and compensated appropriately for their labor,” said DiMarco. “The union’s civil rights march was born out of a desire to draw attention to issues of racial and economic inequality in America, and the strike at this supplier facility is a modern-day extension of that struggle.”
The labor dispute between the Big Three automakers and the UAW is expected to continue well into the autumn, and the number of supplier strikes could grow as more workers become emboldened and join the action. If the union’s message is successful in bringing about change in the auto industry, the walkouts of 2019 could be remembered as a turning point in labor relations in America.