NewsPublic Affairs / September 18, 2019

Economist: UAW Strike Critical Test For Union, But With Long Term Effects For Economy

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
UAW members at GM's Fort Wayne Assembly plant picket during the first day of the strike. - Samantha Horton/IPB News

UAW members at GM's Fort Wayne Assembly plant picket during the first day of the strike.

Samantha Horton/IPB News

An Indiana economist says the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors comes at a pivotal moment for the union. 

The UAW lost about 35,000 members across the country last year. National leaders of the union say they called a strike to fight for a four-year contract that would give union workers higher wages and additional job protections at a time when the manufacturing industry is seeing reduced growth.

Ball State economist Michael Hicks says the union’s new contract with automakers will be a critical test for the UAW to show its value and maintain members.

“That’s the existential crisis of the UAW, is driving the need for them to be pressing for better wages and longer-term contracts for their members,” says Hicks.

He says securing greater job stability for workers will be a challenge. With a slowdown in manufacturing, Hicks says “that’s the one area GM can’t afford to give up in.”

The strike has now run longer than the union’s last strike in 2007 and Hicks believes it could have long-term effects for the state’s economy. He says any further economic slowdown, including the effects of the strike, will likely hit Indiana and other Rust Belt states harder than other parts of the country.

“If this was 18 months ago, or 24 months ago, this would be hardly noticeable to the U.S. economy,” says Hicks. “But for the Midwest, which is bearing almost the full brunt of the trade war right now, this is just a more painful experience.”

He says even if the strike were to end soon, the impact will be felt well after.

Contact Samantha at or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

At WFYI, our goal is to cover stories that matter to you. Our reporting is rooted in facts. It considers all perspectives and is available to everyone. We don't have paywalls, but we do need support. So if unbiased, trusted journalism is important to you, please join us. Donate now.



Related News

Indiana Crosses 3 Million-Voter Mark For Record Turnout In 2020 General Election
Thanksgiving Turkey Prices Up About 30 Percent For Hoosiers This Year
Indiana's Unemployment Rate Falls, But So Does The Number of Workers