Wall Street Journal: Marick Masters on UAW strike

General Motors Co.’s factory workers took to the picket lines Monday, hoisting signs reading “UAW on Strike” and blocking traffic into plants, in an effort to secure better pay, more job security and other benefits ahead of an expected U.S. car market slowdown.

The United Auto Workers union over the weekend called on nearly 46,000 full-time factory workers at GM to walk off the job starting early Monday morning, after negotiations for a new four-year labor agreement hit a standstill. The nationwide walkout is the UAW’s first in 12 years and involves more than 30 factories across 10 states. It is also one of the largest private-sector work stoppage in decades, coming at a time when unions more broadly have pulled back on striking companies. Work-stoppages involving more than 1,000 employees are down, falling from more than 200 a year in the early 1980s to fewer than 20 annually in recent years. “The strike really has lost its utility as a viable weapon in the private sector,” said Marick Masters, a professor of business at Wayne State University. “You very rarely see an employer willing to buckle.” At the same time, he said both sides have an incentive to reach a deal quickly. “The company knows it’s going to have losses, and workers know they’re going to miss a paycheck,” Masters said.

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