December 1, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Stellantis, new battery plant in Illinois, strike ends; GM Lyriq factory sees withdrawal

Stellantis, new battery plant in Illinois, strike ends;  GM Lyriq factory sees withdrawal

The UAW announced it had reached a tentative agreement with Stellantis to end the six-week strike, including job gains from the reopening of a plant in Belvidere, Illinois and the addition of a new battery plant at that location.

Shortly after, the UAW announced that workers at the General Motors plant that makes the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq would go on strike.

Just days after the UAW made an initial deal with Ford, the union has now announced a similar deal with Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler.

As with the Ford deal, not all the details are currently available, but they will be presented to workers soon. The plan is to provide details on Thursday, November 2, after which union members will be able to vote on whether to accept the deal. Until then, the UAW directed workers to return to work at Stellantis as a good faith measure, and to show the remaining company, GM, that they could end the strike at any time once an agreement was reached.

In a video announcement, UAW President Shawn Fain and Vice President Rich Boyer laid out some details of the deal with Stellantis.

Although we don’t know all the details yet, some of the key gains are a 25% general wage increase, as well as cost-of-living adjustments. The UAW says the total wage increase from this strike is more than the combined wage increases between 2001-2022, just as was the case with the Ford deal.

For some other workers, increases in wages and working conditions must exceed that 25% increase. In particular, some workers at Mopar, Chrysler’s parts arm, and temporary workers, will receive larger raises.

Additionally, one of the big wins identified for the UAW is the reopening of the Belvidere Assembly Complex in Illinois. This plant was mothballed by Stellantis in February, and has been a sticking point in negotiations. The UAW says Stellantis has committed to reopening that plant and building a new 1,000-job battery factory at the facility.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the deal would mean “thousands of jobs, billions in investment, and a huge win for Illinois.”

In all, the UAW says Stellantis originally planned to cut 5,000 jobs across the company, but that deal includes commitments to… Add 5,000 jobs, resulting in a net swing of 10,000 jobs.

This is important because one of the key points in these negotiations is that assembling EVs will likely require fewer labor hours per car, because EVs contain fewer parts. In theory, this means fewer car jobs, or at least fewer hours (an equation that could also be solved by implementing a shorter workweek).

They’ve been telling us for years that going electric was a death sentence for good auto jobs in this country. We stood up and said no.

Sean Fine, President of the UAW

In discussions of this strike, interviewers repeatedly tried to get Fain to malign electric vehicles and blame them for wage or job problems, but Fain never took the bait, always insisting that the UAW was looking for a “just transition” to electric vehicles that would ensure Workers continue to receive fair treatment as the industry is turned upside down.

But the strike continues at GM, where an agreement has not yet been reached. Earlier this month, GM was able to “step past” other manufacturers in negotiations by agreeing to bring all of GM’s U.S. battery plants under the union’s master agreement, ensuring battery jobs are handled as well as auto manufacturing jobs. the public.

But progress since then appears to have been slower, with GM now the latest holdout to not reach an agreement with the UAW.

The UAW has called its tactic a “standby strike,” where the plan is to start by striking a few facilities, then gradually expand the strike over time.

As a result, UAW workers have now decided to go on strike at GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant in Tennessee. This plant makes the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 and XT6, but it also makes the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq.

It’s interesting timing for this, given that production of the Lyriq has finally begun. After years of slow progress for GM’s Ultium vehicles, the third quarter finally saw a big jump in Lyriq production and sales, with 3,108 vehicles delivered. This was more than double the previous record for the second quarter of 1,348 cars. So this slowdown threatens to dampen the momentum behind Lyriq if a deal isn’t found soon.

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