Reports from Reuters indicate that the United Auto Workers planned to resume bargaining talks over this past weekend as strikes were simultaneously launched at General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis (Chrysler parent) late last week.
On Friday, limited shutdown effects were already starting to spread, Reuters reported.
Noted as “the most ambitious U.S. industrial labor action in decades,” this strike has halted production at three plants that produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Colorado as well as other models. One of those plants is a major regional employer located in Wentzville, Mo.
Reuters news reports also indicated:
“Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy will have knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage,” Ford (F.N) said in a statement.
It told 600 workers who are not striking not come to work on Friday and GM (GM.N) told some 2,000 workers at a Kansas car plant that their factory likely would be shut down next week for lack of parts, stemming from a nearby plant being struck.
At a rally on Friday afternoon and at picket lines during the day, union members protested loudly and took special aim at a two-tiered wage system that left new hires without the pay or benefits of seasoned hands. That was unfair and favored investors over workers, they said.
The union is demanding a bigger share of profits, shorter work weeks, restoration of defined benefit pensions and stronger job security as automakers shift to electric vehicles.
UAW vice president Chuck Browning, who is leading talks with Ford, told a rally of hundreds of UAW workers in downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon that recent talks have made “good progress, but we have far to go.”
Reuters further wrote:
Striking workers said “tier two” employees can make only half the hourly wages of senior UAW workers and get worse benefits.
“That’s the biggest thing I hear in our plant: we were built on equal pay for equal work,” said Bruce Baumhower, the UAW president for the local including the striking Stellantis (STLAM.MI), Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
Some two-tier systems were set in place during bankruptcies more than a decade ago. The starting wage for tier two workers of $15.78 now is on par with fast food restaurants and has not changed since it was set 14 years ago, he said.
“Fourteen years later, our workers are still in bankruptcy,” he added.
None of the Detroit Three has proposed eliminating those tiered wage systems, a key UAW demand, but they have offered to cut the time needed to reach top pay to four from eight years, the Reuters report further noted.
Ford shares ended barely changed on Friday, GM stock rose about 1% and Stellantis shares earlier closed up 1.9% in Milan.
The automakers have offered up to 20% wage hikes, without key benefits demanded by the union.
Ford said the UAW’s latest proposals would double its U.S. labor costs and make it uncompetitive against Tesla (TSLA.O) and other nonunion rivals.
Stellantis said it had immediately gone into “contingency mode” and would take structural decisions to protect the company and its North American operations, without elaborating.
Nearly half the 12,700 striking workers are at the Stellantis plant.
GM said on Thursday the UAW wage and benefits proposals would cost the automaker $100 billion, but did not elaborate.
Other news sources have indicated that the Wentzville facility builds the Chevrolet Colorado and Express, and the GMC Canyon and Savana. Approximately 4,114 people are employed at the 4.25-million-square-foot facility on a 440-acre site. General Motors estimates the taxable wages at the Wentzville site to be $363.1 million.
To read the full Reuters report, visit https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-auto-union-strike-three-detroit-three-factories-2023-09-15/.