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Rutherford Talks to Marketplace About the United Auto Workers Strike

September 25, 2023


Tod Rutherford

Tod Rutherford

The United Auto Workers and the Detroit automakers failed to agree to new contracts last week. A shorter workweek and wage increases are among the union’s demands. But striking workers are also angry about how Ford, General Motors and Stellantis use temporary and so-called “tiered” workers, who receive lower pay and benefits for doing the same work.

When automakers faced bankruptcy in 2008, auto workers faced a tough decision: lose jobs or agree to contract changes that would help the companies get a federal bailout. The union chose the latter.

“This was a concession they had to make in order to sustain the bailouts and have some kind of recovery,” says Tod Rutherford, professor of geography and the environment.

From that moment on, “almost all of the workers that were hired were on some kind of a tiered system,” he says.

Read more in the Marketplace article, “Automakers rely on temp and “tiered” workers. The UAW wants them to stop.”

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