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Some Detroit auto show visitors say US workers should follow Canadians' example

Jakkar Aimery, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT — Visitors to the Detroit auto show Saturday said U.S. autoworkers should follow the example of their Canadian counterparts, and find a way to come to terms with the automakers.

Early Saturday, Unifor, the Canadian autoworkers' union, sadi its new three-year tentative deal with Ford Motor Co. "delivers in a very big way" on members' priorities around pensions and wages, with top-scale workers poised to see their wages increase more than 19% over the life of the agreement.

Senior employees would see their hourly rate rise from $37.33 Canadian to $44.52, an increase of 19.2%, according to Unifor. The Canadian dollar is equivalent to 74 cents in U.S. currency.

Meanwhile, on American soil, the United Auto Workers remained on strike Saturday, a day after expanding its walkout against the Dearborn automaker's two crosstown rivals to 38 General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV parts distribution centers across the country.

Several auto show visitors were "on the fence" about American strikers, saying that their pay and benefits are "still good" and "a hell of a lot better than other places that aren't union."

"I do agree with some of what they're striking for, but I also see both sides," said Michael Sigman of Clinton Township. "However, I don't see any reason why it takes this long to get to an agreement though."


Despite the union's request to lower weekly work hours from 40 to 32, Sigman, 50, said as a guy who has worked 60 to 80 hours a week for more than half his life, it's "a part of the game."

"You're getting paid for it; you're getting benefits for it; if they say work 60, then work 60," he said Saturday afternoon. "I would tell (UAW strikers) to slow your roll a little bit; you're still in a good spot because Ford, Stellantis and GM aren't going anywhere."

In August, UAW president Shawn Fain argued that union members were "barely surviving" by "working 60, 70, even 80 hours a week just to make ends meet," prompting a call for a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, pensions extended to all workers, and the revival of health care coverage for retirees.

With the UAW strike expanding, many Michigan residents feel that it'll adversely impact the economy and skyrocket inflation beyond current demands.


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