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What people are saying at the Detroit Auto Show amid the UAW strike

Posted at 2:34 PM, Sep 16, 2023

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Saturday was the first public day for the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

From experiences to the latest vehicle technology, there is so much to be excited about. But this year, the nine-day event is happening during the UAW's historic strike at the Big 3.

Auto show attendees and car enthusiasts shared with 7 Action News their feelings about the strike.

"It is unfortunate they have to get to a point where they are striking to come to an agreement," said Ken Lapage.

"Well, it's a little bit different... Matter of fact, all of the Big 3 are on strike which is the first," said Wendell Combs Jr.

Combs Jr. works in the auto industry and hopes the situation doesn't drag on.

"Right now, it doesn't seem to be too bad, but I would think it would take a long time to come up with an agreement," Combs Jr. said.

Friday at midnight, auto workers marched out of a GM plant in Missouri, a Stellantis plant in Ohio, and a Ford plant in Michigan, in a coordinated 'Stand-Up Strike' plan authored by UAW leadership.

That's after the UAW and Detroit's Big 3 failed to make a deal on wages and benefits for nearly 150,000 autoworkers before their Thursday night deadline.

"They are looking to work 32 hours a week and get paid for 40 so that maybe they are looking for better work-life balance. But I still support them and their products because we will in a state that's huge on the big three," said Stephanie Cey.

As a healthcare worker, Cey can relate to the UAW's list of demands, which are negotiated every four years.

"Companies need to realize what employees are going through. Other countries work fewer hours and are paid more, and I feel like people in the U.S. are overworked," said Cey.

Cey also shared her opinion of companies who blame changing times, increased operating costs, supply chain issues, and more to justify paying workers low wages and benefits.

"Honestly, for us to survive, inflation is huge right now and we were not getting compensated. And it trickles down from the top. So something has gotta give," said Cey.

Douglas Tate, another visitor at the show, also believes businesses facing challenges should not be an excuse for paying workers less.

"Beyond all that other stuff, the CEO is getting there. So they got to share. I'm sorry, but they got to share. People need to make a comfortable living. It's a shame. You work for General Motors, but you can't afford a General Motors car," said Tate.

But Ken Lepage, who was looking for his next vehicle at the show, believes regardless of what happens with the UAW and the Big 3, the consumers will be impacted.

"I don't know of the pricing. I'm more worried about the availability and quality. There are a lot of questions, so until they work it out, I will probably hold off on ordering one," said Lepage.

For more information about the Detroit Auto Show, click here.