Sparing Ford Motor Co., the United Auto Workers expanded its stand-up strikes, targeting 38 parts distribution warehouses belonging to General Motors and Stellantis.
“This will expand our strike nationwide,” said UAW President Shawn Fain during a Facebook Live appearance Friday morning.
Progress at Ford
Fain said Ford was spared in the expanded strike since company and union negotiators have made serious and steady progress during the bargaining this week even though no tentative deal has been reached. Ford did reach a tentative settlement with Unifor, the Canadian union representing some 5,600 hourly workers in Oakville and Windsor, Ontario.
Meanwhile, GM and Stellantis launched new broadsides this week in which they claimed the union’s proposals calling for a 46% wage increase, the end of the tiered wage structure, a 32-hour work week and the restoration of cost-of-living adjustments and defined benefit pensions, were unworkable and unsustainable.
During his Facebook live appearance, Fain said UAW members will remain on strike at Ford’s assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan where some 3,600 blue-collar workers walked off the job Sept. 15.
Union members also remain on strike at other plants, including about 5,800 at the Stellantis Jeep complex in Toledo, Ohio and about 3,800 workers at the GM assembly plants in Wentzville, Missouri, where the work stoppage has led to the idling of GM’s assembly plant in Fairfax, putting 2,000 workers on temporary layoffs, Fain said.
“Both GM and Stellantis are going to need to make some serious progress,” said Fain.
Expand strike target dealers
The targeted strikes will strain both companies — as well as their dealers — ability to find parts required to service customer vehicles at a time when more and more consumers are depending on the purchase of used vehicles and the repairs to the ones, they might already own.
Additionally, the UAW appears to have driven a serious wedge between Detroit’s automakers as Ford, according to Fain, has agreed to give the union the right to strike over proposed plant closings, which is something both GM and Stellantis — and its predecessors — have resisted since the 1980s.
Union bargainers at Ford also have moved closer to reinstating the cost-of-living adjustments and ending tiers and improving profit sharing payouts, according to Fain.
Fain also said the UAW is continuing its strike at a ZF plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is threatening to shut down the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Tuscaloosa. The ZF plant supplies axle assemblies and the UAW is resisting the company’s demands for tiers, and concessions on health-care benefits that would leave workers with less money than under their old contract, according to Fain.
ZF says it is attempting to operate the plant with salaried employees and temporary workers. Mercedes officials said they are monitoring the situation.