Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three automakers continued Sunday — the 17th day of an unprecedented strike organized by the union against Ford Motor Co., Stellantis NV and General Motors.
The strike began on September 15 with the UAW unleashing a targeted strike strategy beginning with a shutdown at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Stellantis’ Toledo Assembly Complex, and GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri.
The strike has been expanded twice to include all Stellantis and GM parts distribution centers, and on Friday two SUV plants were added: GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant and Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant – bringing the number of striking auto workers to 25,300 out of 146,000 UAW members at the companies. . The Stellantis facilities have been exempt from the latest expansion since the Jeep and Ram automaker made progress in talks with the union on areas including cost-of-living adjustments that were suspended in 2009, the right not to cross the picket line, the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures, and halting outsourcing. With external sources.
“I was actually relieved that Stellantis made a big move,” said Art Wheaton, an auto industry specialist at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
“For me, this was great news. Primarily because I was very concerned about Stellantis coming in. It seems to me that they are approaching the pattern and may actually commit to the pattern bargain.”
Ford had previously survived the union’s first move to expand the strike’s targets. The Dearborn automaker made progress in the week leading up to Sept. 22 in talks with the Dearborn automaker regarding cost-of-living adjustments, pay differentials at feeder plants and job security protections.
Despite some progress on some items, Ford criticized the union on Friday after expanding the strike that added the Chicago assembly plant where the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are built. Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the union of “holding the deal hostage” over the automaker’s four planned US electric vehicle battery plants.
Late Friday, GM CEO Mary Barra issued a scathing statement against the union, claiming it had “no real intention of reaching an agreement.”
The automakers and the union have remained far apart over the union’s demands for pensions for all employees, health care for retirees, a restored job bank and a 36% wage increase over four years. The companies offered pay increases of about 20% while expressing concern that giving all union priorities would further widen the gap between their employee costs and those of non-union competitors such as Tesla Inc, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. .
The three Detroit automakers’ costs are in the mid-$60 range, while the foreign automakers’ labor costs are in the mid-$50 range, and Tesla is in the high-$40 range.
With Stellantis and Ford taking steps on cost-of-living increases, Wheaton believes GM could be next.
“Maybe GM will follow suit… especially with all the firepower on the UAW side right now,” he said. “I don’t hear a lot of criticism from the public.”
How do you feel on the picket line?
Workers who build the Bronco and Ranger at Michigan’s Ford Assembly are heading into their third week of strike action.
“I’d like to go back to work, but only under the right contract,” said Patrick Smalley, who has worked for Ford for 35 years.
Smalley, 56, of Westland is ready to stay out “however long it takes.”
Smalley said feelings about continuing the strike were mixed on the picket line.
“Some people have prepared for it and some people may not have prepared for it, and we’ve gotten to the point where some people are saying, ‘Well, I’d like to go back to work, but if we have to do it, we have to do it,'” he added. “Do it,” he said.
His Michigan Assembly colleague, Kim McCartha, who has worked at Ford since 2012, is willing to reach an agreement between the two sides.
“But I know we want a good deal, a fair deal,” the 58-year-old from Redford said, saying she wanted to see pay rises, cost of living allowances restored and the tiered pay system addressed. In the next decade.
Before the strike, McCartha began watching her spending.
Now, with strike pay of $500 a week, she still “bes very careful and just waits, doesn’t go on trips or does anything extra,” she said.
Going on strike “is a little different for me than staying on the line,” she said. “But hey, I’m willing to grind it as long as we have to.”
Car sales are off this week
The Detroit Three reported third-quarter sales this week, but experts don’t expect the strike to affect them just yet.
Analysts at Edmunds.com Inc., a vehicle information site, expect sales of 3.9 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. for the third quarter of 2023, representing a 16% year-over-year increase.
Before the strike, Edmunds data showed Detroit Three cars stayed at dealers longer than the industry average.
In a statement sent last week, Edmunds Director of Insights Evan Drury said: “Availability is currently strong for U.S.-brand trucks and SUVs, but shoppers considering a new vehicle from any of the brands in Detroit may consider accelerating their search.” “Given the unexpected impact of the strike on supply.”
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