Skip to main content
Business

UAW strike could cost billions. See the price of these 5 strikes in history.

Share

United Auto Workers are striking against Detroit’s Big Three automakers at the same time for the first time. The impact could be financially devastating. Economists estimate 10 days on the picket lines against General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler-parent Stellantis could cost the U.S. economy $5.6 billion and push Michigan into a recession.

Strikes can financially strap companies, workers and the overall economy. Here are some of the costliest strikes in history in this week’s Five For Friday:

5: UPS, 1997

In 1997, the U.S. shipping landscape had one major player. UPS delivered around 80% of ground packages throughout the country. So when 185,000 UPS workers went on strike for 15 days over pensions, wages and part-time status, it cost the company roughly $800 million. USPS and FedEx had limited market share at the time and it was impossible to fill the void.

Since then, e-commerce has exploded with the likes of Amazon, shipping anything and everything to your home. When UPS workers contemplated another strike this summer, economists estimated that a 10-day strike would cost the U.S. economy $7.1 billion.

4: MLB, 1994-95

Professional baseball is no stranger to labor disputes, and MLB’s season-ending strike of 1994 cost owners around $580 million, while players lost $230 million in salaries. It also spelled the end for the short-lived Baseball Network, which lost $595 million in revenue after the cancellation of nearly 950 regular season games, along with the playoffs and World Series.

The fight over a salary cap in baseball — which never came to fruition — took a toll on goodwill with fans. It took more than a decade for per-game attendance to return to pre-strike levels.

3: Southern California Supermarkets, 2003-2004

In the fall of 2003, 70,000 supermarket workers in southern California went on strike against four major chains in the region. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union claimed Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Ralph’s were trying to reduce benefits to compete with Walmart.

The strike lasted four months and cost the chains between $1.5 billion to $2 billion. The dispute left the striking workers without $300 million in wages. The two sides eventually came to terms, but Ralph’s had to part with an additional $70 million in penalties for illegally re-hiring locked-out workers under fake names.

2: General Motors, 2019

The last time UAW went on strike was a 40-day walkout against General Motors in 2019. That’s when 48,000 workers hit the picket line for job security and better wages. The automaker said it cost the company $3.6 billion in earnings for the year. Many suppliers down the line also lost revenue and the price of steel fell considerably due to a lack of production with 34 plants at a standstill.

1: Hollywood Writers and Actors

Most production in Hollywood is currently shut down with writers and actors on strike since May and July, respectively. Both are concerned about being replaced by artificial intelligence and compensation for streaming rights.

Analysts say the strike could cost the economy more than $5 billion or $150 million per week. Television and films are a $134 billion industry in the U.S. so the costs keep piling up with no end to the strike in sight.

We’ve seen a number of high profile strikes in the history of Tinsel town. Check out this Five For Friday on it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SIMONE DEL ROSARIO:

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY – UNITED AUTO WORKERS ARE STRIKING AGAINST DETROIT’S BIG THREE AT THE SAME TIME: GM, FORD, AND FIAT CHRYSLER PARENT STELLANTIS. A 10-DAY STRIKE COULD COST THE U.S. $5.6 BILLION IN GDP, AND PUSH MICHIGAN INTO A RECESSION. YEP, STRIKES CAN STRAP COMPANIES, WORKERS AND THE ECONOMY AT LARGE. HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST COSTLY STRIKES EVER IN THIS WEEK’S FIVE FOR FRIDAY.

THE YEAR’S 1997 AND UPS HAS ITS HAND IN DELIVERING 80% OF GROUND PACKAGES NATIONWIDE. THEN, 185,000 UPS WORKERS GO ON STRIKE FOR 15 DAYS OVER PENSIONS, WAGES, AND PART-TIME STATUS. THE STOPPAGE COST THE COMPANY AROUND $800 MILLION. AND IT’S HARD TO STATE THE OVERALL IMPACT SINCE USPS AND FEDEX COULDN’T FILL THE VOID. E-COMMERCE HAS EXPLODED SINCE THEN, WHEN UPS WORKERS WERE CONTEMPLATING ANOTHER STRIKE THIS SUMMER, JUST 10 DAYS WOULD HAVE COST THE U-S ECONOMY $7.1 BILLION.

THE MLB’S SEASON-ENDING STRIKE OF 1994 COST OWNERS AN ESTIMATED $580 MILLION AND PLAYERS $230 MILLION. IT ALSO PUT THE KIBOSH ON THE SHORT-LIVED “BASEBALL NETWORK” WHICH LOST $595 MILLION IN REVENUE AS THE LEAGUE CANCELED NEARLY 950 REGULAR SEASON GAMES ALONG WITH THE PLAYOFFS AND WORLD SERIES. AND THE SPAT OVER A SALARY CAP COST GOODWILL WITH FANS, IT TOOK MORE THAN A DECADE FOR ATTENDANCE TO COME BACK TO PRE-STRIKE LEVELS.

I REMEMBER THIS ONE WELL, YOU COULDN’T GROCERY SHOP WITHOUT CROSSING A PICKET LINE. IN FALL OF 2003, 70,000 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUPERMARKET WORKERS WENT ON STRIKE. THE UNION SAID ALBERTSONS, VONS, PAVILIONS AND RALPH’S WERE TRYING TO REDUCE BENEFITS TO COMPETE WITH WALMART. THE 4 MONTH STRIKE COST THE CHAINS BETWEEN $1.5 AND $2 BILLION AND WORKERS LOST $300 MILLION IN WAGES. WHILE THE TWO SIDES EVENTUALLY CAME TO TERMS, RALPH’S ENDED UP SHELLING OUT $70 MILLION IN PENALTIES FOR ILLEGALLY HIRING LOCKED OUT WORKERS UNDER FAKE NAMES.

LAST TIME UNITED AUTO WORKERS WENT ON STRIKE, IT WAS A 40-DAY WALKOUT AGAINST GENERAL MOTORS IN 2019. 48,000 WORKERS WALKED OUT FOR BETTER WAGES AND JOB SECURITY. GM SAID THE STOPPAGE COST THEM $3.6 BILLION IN EARNINGS THAT YEAR, BUT THE AUTO INDUSTRY IS FAR REACHING AND COMPANIES DOWN THE SUPPLY CHAIN LOST BIG BUCKS. THE PRICE OF STEEL EVEN TOOK A DIVE AMID A LACK OF PRODUCTION WHILE 34 PLANTS IDLED.

HOLLYWOOD IS CURRENTLY AT A STANDSTILL WITH WRITERS AND ACTORS ON STRIKE SINCE MAY AND JULY. BOTH ARE CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING REPLACED BY AI AND COMPENSATION FOR STREAMING RIGHTS. TV AND MOVIES ARE A $134 BILLION BUSINESS, AND ANALYSTS SAY THIS STRIKE COULD COST THE ECONOMY MORE THAN $5 BILLION OR $150 MILLION A WEEK. THE COSTS WILL KEEP PILING UP AS THERE’S NO END IN SIGHT. REMEMBER THIS IS ABOUT BEHIND THE SCENES, EXTRAS AND BIT PLAYERS, NOT RYAN GOSLINGS AND MARGOT ROBBIES.

INTERESTED IN MORE HOLLYWOOD STRIKES IN HISTORY? WE’VE GOT A FIVE FOR FRIDAY FOR THAT. I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO. IT’S JUST BUSINESS.