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NewsUAW Expands Strike Actions Amid Tense Negotiations

UAW Expands Strike Actions Amid Tense Negotiations

The UAW intensifies strike activities at Detroit auto factories, impacting key operations and challenging negotiations on wages and worker disparities.

 

  • UAW announces walkouts at Ford’s assembly plant in Chicago and a GM factory near Lansing, Michigan.

  • As of Friday noon, 25,000 workers, representing 17% of Detroit 3’s hourly employees, will be on strike.

  • Main contention points include a 40% pay hike demand and the elimination of a two-tier wage system.


 

Amid escalating tensions, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is amplifying its strike actions against Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. UAW President Shawn Fain declared walkouts at two additional factories: Ford’s Chicago plant, which manufactures the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, and a GM facility near Lansing where Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are produced.

Ford Headquarters Dearborn, Michigan | Photo: Ford

This decision is set to bring the total number of striking workers to 25,000, which constitutes 17% of the hourly workforce of the Detroit 3. Key industry stakeholders, from Wall Street investors to the White House, are observing closely, especially regarding potential shutdowns of powertrain factories or assembly lines that produce the major profit-generating vehicles like pickups and large SUVs.

In 1996 General Motors acquired the Renaissance Center to house
Renaissance Center, GM’s Detroit Headquarters | Photo: General Motors

Recent negotiations have been characterized as “very active.” On Thursday, the UAW presented a counterproposal to Stellantis, and if no agreement is reached, President Fain is likely to initiate further walkouts, continuing the work stoppage until a new contract is approved.

Stellantis Kokomo Transmission Plant | Photo: Stellantis

Currently, about 18,300 UAW members are on strike, approximately 12% of the 146,000 union members employed by the automakers. To date, the union has ceased operations at one assembly plant for each automaker and 38 parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis. While these actions have had some impact, a more significant financial strain would arise if assembly lines producing high-profit vehicles, such as the Ford F-series, Chevy Silverado, and Ram trucks, were halted.

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A key point of contention in negotiations is the wage increase. Fain and the UAW are demanding a 40% pay raise over a four-year contract, a stance endorsed by President Joe Biden. In contrast, the automakers are proposing about a 20% hike. Additionally, the UAW seeks the abolition of the two-tier wage system, which results in a disparity between new hires and veteran workers.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (center) inspects the steel body of a Jeep® Grand Cherokee L as part of a tour of the Detroit Assembly Complex – Mack plant on Feb. 9, 2021. Tavares and other members of the Stellantis leadership team visited Mack and the Detroit Assembly Complex – Jefferson plant, home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango, to meet with employees and get a firsthand look at those operations, marking their first North American visit since the Stellantis merger was completed last month.

With ongoing uncertainties, both parties remain at odds over essential economic concerns, and the industry awaits a resolution.

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