UAW targets 38 facilities at GM and Stellantis, skips Ford

UAW strike
(L-R) Supporter Ryan Sullivan, and United Auto Workers members Chris Sanders-Stone, Casey Miner, Kennedy R. Barbee Sr. and Stephen Brown picket outside the Jeep Plant on September 18, 2023 in Toledo, Ohio. (Sarah Rice | Getty Images)

According to UAW President Shawn Fain, the union is extending its walkouts to 38 assembly and distribution centers in 20 states, with a focus on General Motors and Stellantis. The walkouts began on Friday morning.

As Ford Motor has demonstrated that it is “serious about reaching a deal,” the union will not launch any further strikes there, Fain stated in a Facebook Live response.

“We still have serious issues to work through, but we do want to recognize that Ford is showing that they’re serious about reaching a deal,” said the outspoken union leader. “At GM and Stellantis, it’s a different story.”

Fain reported that improvements to the profit-sharing model, the elimination of several salary tiers, and the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments have all been achieved in cooperation with Ford and the union.

He said that the union had obtained the ability to go on strike in response to factory closures throughout the agreement’s duration and the instant conversion of supplemental or temporary employees, defined as those with at least 90 days of employment, upon ratification.

Ford said the company is “working diligently with the UAW to reach a deal,” but “we still have significant gaps to close on the key economic issues.”

“In the end, the issues are interconnected and must work within an overall agreement that supports our mutual success,” Ford said in a statement Friday.

The UAW’s current strikes at the Detroit automakers will be joined by about 5,600 autoworkers from the strikes at GM and Stellantis components suppliers, including about 3,500 GM employees.

GM released a statement saying, “Today’s strike escalation by the UAW’s top leadership is unnecessary.” In order to address the issues that our team members have said are most important—wage increases and job security—while enabling GM to continue to grow and prosper, we have now put out five distinct economic recommendations that are historic.

“We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible,” the automaker said.

It is unclear “whether the union’s leadership has ever had an interest in reaching an agreement in a timely manner,” Stellantis stated in a statement.

A week ago, over 12,700 UAW employees went on strike at the following locations: the Ford Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; the GM midsize truck and full-size van facility in Wentzville, Missouri; and the Stellantis Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Distribution hubs for parts, particularly at Stellantis, have been a major source of worry during these discussions. The carmaker has suggested creating larger, Amazon-style distribution centers from ten “Mopar” components and distribution sites that are dispersed throughout the nation.

According to Fain, GM has committed to do away with the salary disparities at its sites that produce parts and components. While applauding the Detroit carmaker for that move, he denounced it for defying additional agreements Ford had made with the union.

One different approach is to focus on the parts and distribution centers. It impacts the distribution of parts to dealers rather than the manufacture and assembly of automobiles.

If the latest work stoppages continue, dealers may experience severe disruptions, which could postpone customer fixes. A consequence of recent supply chain problems has been problematic repair wait times.

“This will impact these two companies repairs operations,” Fain said. “Our message to the consumer is simple: The way to fix the frustrating customer experience is for the companies to end price gouging. Invest these record profits into stable jobs and stable wages and benefits.”

Numerous people, including Wall Street analysts, anticipated that the union would extend work stoppages to the Detroit automakers’ full-size truck factories, which are essential to their bottom line.

Eighteen plants spread over thirteen states—Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, California, Texas, West Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania—are among the GM sites that are impacted.

Twenty facilities throughout 14 states—Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, California, Oregon, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts—are impacted by Stellantis’ extended strikes.

“This expansion will also take our fight nationwide,” Fain said. “We will keep going, keep organizing and keep expanding the stand-up strike as necessary.”

Note: Excludes the three locations in Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin that were already on strike before Sept. 22, 2023/ Source: UAW

After the parties were unable to come to a tentative deal by the prior contracts’ expiration date of September 14 at 11:59 p.m., the UAW initiated targeted strikes.

The automakers’ record contract proposals, which included bonuses worth thousands of dollars, retention of the union’s platinum health care plan, and other enticing benefits, did not prevent the additional plant strikes.

Stellantis announced on Friday that it had made a “very competitive offer” that, if accepted, would result in a 21.4% compound annual increase for current full-time hourly employees by the end of the contract. Additionally, the offer would address a long-term issue with an idled factory in Belvidere, Illinois, and provide “significant product allocation that allows for workforce stability through the end of the contract.”

“We still have not received a response to that offer,” the company said.

Among other things, the union has called for a 40% rise in hourly pay, a reduction in the workweek, a return to traditional pensions, the removal of pay levels, and the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments.

The fresh strikes occur one day after leaked correspondence involving UAW Communications Director Jonah Furman were disclosed by The Detroit News on Thursday night, raising concerns about the union’s intentions behind the work stoppages.

Furman characterizes UAW’s tactics and targeted strikes as generating “recurring reputations damage and operational chaos” in the undated private group messages that CNBC was able to read.

Furman stated that if the union “can keep them wounded for months they don’t know what to do,” but he did not provide a response.

Fain talked about the union’s approach of “doing things differently” in order to “win record contracts,” but she did not respond to the messages on Facebook Live.

Credits: CNBC

Learn More:

UAW strike puts the four day workweek back in focus

The Launch of Unprecedented Strike Against All Big Three Automakers by UAW Workers

The Launch of a Historic Strike by UAW against All Big 3 Automakers

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