As the clock ticks closer to the deadline, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the 'Detroit Three' automakers are intensifying their efforts to strike a new labor agreement. Failure to reach a deal could potentially result in a debilitating strike that would impact workers, automakers, and the entire U.S. economy, incurring billions in losses. Although progress has been made, investors remain cautiously skeptical about the prospects of a resolution.
According to reports, the UAW has revised its wage increase demands for the four-year contract, now seeking around a 30% raise throughout its duration. This figure marks a notable decrease from their initial request for an increase surpassing 40%. At present, the UAW has refrained from providing an immediate comment on the details of its negotiation positions.
On the other side of the table, the auto makers—Ford Motor (F), General Motors (GM), and Stellantis (STLA)—initially proposed headline wage increases resting at approximately 10%. However, these figures have since been adjusted and increased to around 15%. From an external standpoint, comparing the various proposals proves challenging given the additional factors such as lump-sum payments, cost of living adjustments, and wage-tier modifications that need to be accounted for.
Nevertheless, when examining the numbers on the surface, the disparity between a 15% and 30% wage increase appears significant. Consequently, it is not surprising that shares of both GM and Ford have shown little movement despite what would typically be perceived as positive news. In premarket trading on Tuesday, both stocks experienced a decline of roughly 0.3%, contrasting with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures, which were only down about 0.2%.
As time grows increasingly scarce, the negotiations are reaching a critical juncture. The fate of the labor contract, along with the far-reaching consequences it entails, hangs in the balance. All parties involved anxiously await further developments as they strive to secure an agreement that satisfies both the interests of the workers and the viability of the auto industry.
Stellantis Shares: A Distinctive Perspective
Stellantis, a Europe-based company, has garnered attention due to its unique position in the stock market. Unlike its counterparts, GM and Ford, Stellantis shares do not consistently trade in correlation with the others, showing differences in portfolio composition and shareholder background.
While GM and Ford shares have witnessed a decline of approximately 20% over the past two months, Stellantis shares have remained relatively stable. Investors have adopted a cautious approach, refraining from taking risks in the face of a potential strike and instead opting to observe the unfolding situation.
Conflicting views on the potential strike exist within Wall Street. Some analysts express concerns over the adverse impact of heightened labor costs on profitability. On the other hand, more optimistic analysts view the negotiations as a natural part of the process, with wage increases necessary after years of unprecedented inflation.
Both perspectives hold validity as investors eagerly await clarity. The stagnant stock prices may experience an upward trajectory once a deal is finally reached. Investors hunger for certainty surrounding the timing of such an agreement, alongside insights into the extent of wage growth.
Within the three auto manufacturers, there are an estimated 140,000 to 150,000 UAW workers. The overall annual labor costs, based on Federal Reserve estimates, amount to roughly $20 billion.
When considering potential wage increases between 15% and 30%, the difference becomes significant, potentially reaching up to $3 billion over the contract's lifespan. However, this figure only represents around 1% of the combined North American sales for these automakers. Additionally, it constitutes approximately 6% of Wall Street's projected combined operating profit for the year 2024.