ON MONDAY morning, October 23, 6,800 UAW members at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP), Michigan, joined the Stand Up Strike, shutting down production at Stellantis’ largest plant and biggest moneymaker.
The workers who make Stellantis’ best-selling RAM 1500 trucks were joining the unprecedented Stand Up Strike at all three of the Big Three automakers.
The move comes just days after UAW President Shawn Fain detailed the current proposals across the automakers, highlighting the shortcomings of Stellantis’ current offer.
Despite having the highest revenue, the highest profits (North American and global), the highest profit margins, and the most cash in reserve, Stellantis lags behind both Ford and General Motors in addressing the demands of their UAW workforce.
Currently, Stellantis has the worst proposal on the table regarding wage progression, temporary worker pay and conversion to full-time, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and more.
The unannounced walkout at SHAP brings the total number of UAW members on strike at the Big Three automakers to over 40,000, as the strike nears the six-week mark.
The Stand Up Strike is a new approach to striking. It is the first time the union has struck all Big Three automakers at the same time.
But instead of all 150,000 UAW autoworkers walking out at once, select locals have been called on to ‘Stand Up’ and strike.
The strike began on September 15 with a walkout at three assembly plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. It has since grown to include seven assembly plants and 38 parts distribution centers in 22 states.
This is the second time that the UAW has launched a surprise strike at a plant.
During the first month of the strike, the union set a deadline in advance and expanded the strike if an automaker failed to make progress toward a fair agreement.
That phase of the strike did produce significant movement, but then the Big Three began to slow-walk bargaining until just before each deadline.
On October 11, the UAW began a new phase of the Stand Up Strike when it launched a surprise strike at Ford’s iconic and highly profitable Kentucky Truck Plant.
In that unannounced move, 8,700 UAW members walked off the job at 6:30 pm and shut down the Louisville, Ky. plant.
Ford, GM and Stellantis made a quarter-trillion dollars in North American profits over the last decade.
They made a combined $21 billion in total profits in just the first six months of this year. And yet all of them are still refusing to settle contracts that give workers a fair share of the record profits they’ve earned.
- Just before midnight on Sunday night, October 22, 1,100 UAW members who make tanks and armored vehicles for General Dynamics reached a tentative agreement with the company.
The workers are members of five UAW Locals across three UAW Regions: Lima, OH (Region 2B, Locals 2075 & 2147); Sterling Heights, MI (Region 1, Locals 412 & 1248), and Scranton, PA (Region 9, Local 1193).
After weeks of contentious negotiations, and a strike authorisation vote with 97% of members voting in favour, workers have won a four-year deal that provides a 14% wage increase, protects against inflation with a folded-in COLA that equals 11% of the top wage, with automatic COLA fold-in in the future, reduces the time it takes to get to top pay, and beats back the company’s proposed healthcare concessions.
The membership will hold a ratification vote on the agreement, with further details to be announced.
On Friday, October 20, UAW President Shawn Fain gave an update on the progress of Big Three contract negotiations.
On the current state of negotiations, Fain said: ‘We’ve looked at the companies’ proposals. We’ve costed their offer. And in my opinion – and in the opinion of the Vice Presidents, and in the opinion of your national negotiators – there is more to be won.’
‘At all three companies, as of this week, we have a 23% raise on the table. That’s up from 20% just a few days ago, and up from 9% when they made their first offer. The companies kept saying they hit their limit, and then their limit went up. We think there’s more ground to gain.’
‘At all three companies, we have killed massive wage tiers. This is a major win and has been a major priority. We believe in equal pay for equal work.
‘At Stellantis, Mopar workers will make production wages. At GM, CCA and GMCH workers will make production wages. At Ford, Sterling Axle and Rawsonville workers will make production wages.
‘This represents huge raises for those members and will end the toxic wage tier divide among these members.’
‘We started these negotiations with a ridiculous 8-year progression. At Ford, we got it down to a 3-year progression, where it was in the mid-1990s. At Stellantis, they’re still stuck on a 4-year progression. At GM, they want to two-tier the progression, with 3-years for all current employees, and 4 years for future hires. Obviously, that is not going to fly.
‘If Ford can do it, so can GM and Stellantis, and we are not adding a new tier.’
‘At Ford, we have won the COLA formula back to where it was in 2009 — something we were told was impossible. At GM, we’re really close, with some tweaks left to be made. At Stellantis, we’ve still got a deficient COLA formula on the table, that doesn’t kick-in for the first year.’
‘We’re fighting to end the abuse of so-called temporary workers who make lower wages, have fewer rights, and little job security.
‘At Ford, we’ve raised the temp wage to $21 an hour, and won conversion of all current temps with 90 days of service. At GM, we’ve also hit $21 an hour for temps, with all the temps who have a year in getting immediately converted to full time. At Stellantis, the temp wage is still at $20 an hour, and we’re going to convert thousands of temps.
‘At all three, we’re still negotiating a pathway for future temps to get converted to end the abuse of these members. We’re fighting hard to win language across the Big Three that will make sure that temporary work is just that – temporary.’
‘One of our biggest proposals on job security has been the right to strike over plant closures. They can’t keep closing plants without any consequences.
‘At Ford and Stellantis, we’ve won that right. We will keep our jobs secure with the most powerful weapon we have, the strike threat. At GM, the company still won’t grant it.’
‘At all three companies, we’ve won an additional holiday, Juneteenth, and two weeks of paid parental leave, a first for our members at the Big Three.’
‘We know we need to fix our broken retirement system at the Big Three. All three companies are now offering a $3 increase to the pension multiplier, and boosting the 401k, though GM lags behind. Ford and Stellantis are offering a 9.5% employer contribution to the 401k, and GM is offering just 8%.
‘For current retirees, Ford is offering a $250 annual lump sum payment, and GM just a one-time $1,000 lump sum. Stellantis isn’t offering anything on that front.’
‘This week, GM and Stellantis got the message loud and clear. They hurried to catch up with Ford. But GM, in particular, is worrying. They tell us they need a two-tier wage progression because they expect to do a lot of hiring. At the same time, they threaten product and won’t give us the right to strike over plant closures. I wonder how members at Arlington and Flint Truck feel about that.’