The United Auto Workers union and the three Detroit automakers resumed negotiations on a new labor contract Saturday as a selective strike entered its second day.
The union is on strike against all three manufacturers (General Motors, Ford and Stellantis), but for now has limited the work stoppages to one plant at each of the companies: a Ford plant in Michigan, a GM plant in Missouri and a Stellantis plant in Ohio. .
“Today we had reasonably productive conversations with Ford,” the union said in a statement. He did not mention his conversations with GM and Stellantis.
On Friday, Ford said it had told 600 workers not part of the strike not to show up for work, and GM said the work stoppage could force it to lay off about 2,000 workers at a plant in Kansas that sources parts from the company. Missouri factory.
In a statement Saturday, UAW President Shawn Fain said hints from automakers about possible layoffs were aimed at “pressuring our members to settle for less” than the union has demanded.
“With their record profits, they don’t have to lay off any employees,” he said.
The union seeks a substantial wage increase, an expansion of pension plans to cover all workers, company-paid retiree health care and shorter work weeks. It also seeks to end the “tiered” pay system in which new employees start at just over half the standard union wage and have to work eight years before reaching the top level.
In its initial list of demands, the UAW called for a 40 percent pay increase, saying it matches the average pay increase the CEOs of the three companies have received over the past four years.
On Saturday, Stellantis, the parent of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, said its most recent offer called for an immediate 10 percent raise and additional raises that would raise wages a total of 21 percent over the life of the new contract. which is usually four years.
The company also said it offered to allow salary adjustments based on inflation. Under his proposal, new employees would rise to the maximum wage (currently $32 an hour) for four years instead of eight. Temporary workers, who now earn $16.67 an hour, would go to about $21 an hour, Stellantis said.
“It’s a very fair and highly competitive offer,” Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of Stellantis’ North American division, said in a conference call.
“We clearly understand that we have been in an inflationary environment,” Stewart said. “We understand that we need to make changes to reflect what has happened since the last contract.” At the same time, he continued, the company has to ensure it can compete with rivals that operate non-union plants, including Tesla and foreign-owned automakers such as Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen.
“We have to have a viable industry,” Mr. Stewart said. “At the end of the day, we have to be able to compete.”
GM and Ford have made similar offers on wages and reducing promotion to the maximum wage to four years, but all three companies have rejected many of the union’s other demands related to pensions, health care and job security.
Stewart also said Stellantis made a proposal to provide “job security” to approximately 1,350 people who lost their jobs earlier this year when Stellantis closed a plant in Belvidere, Illinois. He declined to detail the company’s offer and did not say whether it included having the Belvidere plant produce new vehicles, a step that would indicate he plans a full reopening of the factory.
However, that offer only remained on the table until the strike began.
Later on Saturday, Mr. Fain issued a statement: “Belvidere Assembly was a profitable plant that just a few years ago supported about 5,000 workers and their families. Now that number is zero and Stellantis wants to keep playing.” And he added: “Our attitude is: save Belvidere.”
Reopening that plant is one of the most important goals for Mr. Fain. He was elected to office earlier this year with a promise to take a tougher and more confrontational approach than his predecessors.
Four years ago, the UAW went on strike for 40 days against GM and hoped to pressure the company to reopen a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that GM had advertised for closure. In the end, the union reached an agreement that allowed the company to close the factory.