By David Shepardson and Joseph White
DETROIT (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The United Auto Workers has expanded its strikes against Detroit automakers General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis, but kept the Ford strike limited to a single plant due to progress in talks, the union said Friday.
The auto workers union began strikes Friday at noon EDT (1600 GMT) against 38 U.S. parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis, extending its unprecedented simultaneous strikes that began with one assembly plant each of the Three of Detroit. The additional facilities added about 5,600 workers to the 12,700 already on strike.
UAW President Shawn Fain said in a Facebook Live event that by targeting distribution centers the strike becomes a nationwide event. He said he expects talks to continue over the weekend.
Hours after Fain invited President Joe Biden to visit a picket line, Biden said in a social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he would come to Michigan on Tuesday “to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and the citizens”. UAW women.” He added, “It’s time for a win-win deal that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with good-paying UAW jobs.”
The president has been vocal in his support of the union’s demands for better pay and benefits.
Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a new term, will be in Michigan on Wednesday to speak to auto workers, his campaign said.
Fain said the decision to extend the strike would impact consumers trying to obtain repair parts. Distribution centers are warehouses that ship parts to dealerships and other retailers for use in repairs. “We will be everywhere from California to Massachusetts to Oregon to Florida.”
At a GM parts distribution center outside Philadelphia, workers said the strike will cause cars to sit longer for repairs, but that’s the only way to get the higher wages they seek.
“If you look at the last few years, car prices have gone up 30 percent, but our wages have gone up 6 percent. We’re not the problem,” said Thomas Morris, 60, who worked at the center. Langhorne, Pennsylvania, for the last four decades. “I understand it’s going to cost people some grief, but we’re just looking for equity.”
Fain said they have more work to do at Ford, but “we want to recognize that Ford is showing that they are serious about reaching an agreement.” He added: “Stellantis and GM in particular will need a serious push.”
He also threatened further action at Stellantis’ critical component plants in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana. Stellantis has four plants in Kokomo that produce engines and transmissions widely used in the automaker’s product line.
Stellantis said it plans to consolidate and close some of its parts distribution centers.
Fain said Ford had improved its bargaining offer, including increasing profit sharing and agreeing to let workers strike over plant closings, but said the union still has “serious problems” with Ford.
GM said in a statement that UAW leaders are “manipulating the bargaining process for their own personal interests” and called the escalation of strikes “unnecessary.” Stellantis said Thursday that it made a “very competitive offer” and that the union’s leadership appears “more concerned with pursuing its own political agendas.”
GM, which said it had unspecified contingency plans to protect its business and customers, said it had made five separate offers to the union.
Ford said it would continue to negotiate, adding that “we still have a lot of work ahead of us before we can reach an agreement.”
Nearly 13,000 UAW workers walked out of plants in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio on September 15. These plants produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Chevrolet Colorado, along with other popular models.
But on Tuesday, Ford and the Canadian union Unifor reached a last-minute agreement to avoid a strike. Unifor’s Ford management unanimously approved the tentative agreement Friday evening. Ratification meetings for members are scheduled for Saturday, Unifor said.
Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said this latest move by the UAW marks a divergence in talks with automakers.
“The current deal is a torpedo to the Detroit 3’s business models,” he said. “Accepting a deal just to avoid a strike and getting it done is great for the next 24 hours, but it’s a nightmare for the next 30 years.”
Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, said Ford’s family-controlled structure gives it a different focus than the other two.
“GM and Stellantis are looking at shareholder value and Ford is looking much longer term than having to make friends with labor.”
The standoff is fueling concerns about prolonged industrial action that could disrupt production and dent U.S. economic growth. A RockedBuzz via Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday showed significant support among Americans for striking auto workers.
Automakers have proposed 20% raises over 4 1/2 years, while the UAW is seeking 40%.
The union also wants to eliminate wage gaps that separate new employees from older ones, as well as workers in some component trades and those in assembly plants. Fain said Friday that the union has negotiated the elimination of lower wage ranges at some Ford and GM parts plants. But Stellantis has not agreed to raise wages at its MOPAR component operations, Fain said.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Joseph White in Detroit; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Ben Klayman in Detroit, Peter Henderson and Abhirup Roy in San Francisco, Jeff Mason in Washington and Kanjyik Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Peter Henderson, Nick Zieminski, Matthew Lewis and William Mallard)