UAW to Resume Negotiations With Stellantis After Rejecting Latest Proposal
UAW to Resume Negotiations With Stellantis After Rejecting Latest Proposal

By Bryan Jung

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union will resume negotiations with Stellantis on Sept. 18, after rejecting its latest proposal.

Autoworkers have been conducting targeted strikes after no agreement was reached by a Sept. 15 deadline with the “big three” automakers.

Tens of thousands of workers walked off the job at three key auto plants owned by General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.

UAW members were on strike at a GM site in Wentzville, Missouri, a Stellantis center in Toledo, Ohio, and a Ford assembly location in Wayne, Michigan.

Union leaders say the strike could expand to additional auto plants.

UAW Rejects Latest Contract Proposal

On Sept. 16, UAW President Shawn Fain announced that the union had rejected the offer from Stellantis, which conceded a 21 percent pay raise over the course of a new contract and an immediate 10 percent pay increase.

The Detroit based automaker proposed a higher starting wage rate for supplemental employees, at $20 per hour, or a 26.7 percent increase.

“Decisions made during this process will either enable our workers and our Company to thrive or will take us backward and endanger the long-term competitiveness of our Company, negatively impacting our workers and our communities, said Stellantis in a press statement.

Stellantis called its latest offer “highly competitive” and would have provided “secure a sustainable future that provides all our UAW-represented employees with an opportunity to thrive in a company that will be competitive during the automotive industry’s historic transformation.”

“Our bargaining team continues to work days, nights and weekends in a responsible manner to fully understand and address each of the Union’s nearly 1,000 demands.”

“Our team continues to take a serious and responsible approach to find creative solutions for each of these demands. We have listened and will continue to bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached,” the company added.

Mr. Fain told CBS that the proposal was “definitely a no go, and we’ve made that very clear to the companies.”

Ford and General Motors have made similar proposals.

United Auto Workers (UAW) president Shawn Fain speaks with members of the media and members of the UAW outside of the UAW Local 900 headquarters across the street from the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on Sept. 15, 2023. (Matthew Hatcher/AFP via Getty Images)

Autoworkers Demand Massive Pay Raise

UAW has been demanding a 40 percent pay raise for its members, as annual gross profits at Ford have risen by 34 percent and at GM by 50 percent, since 2019.

“The reason we asked for 40 percent pay increases is because in the last four years alone, the CEO pay went up 40 percent. They’re already millionaires,” said Mr. Fain adding that their demands were “just.”

“We’re asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor,” he argued.

A new 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay and the expansion of pension benefits were among other items sought by the UAW.

The union also called for the elimination of seniority based wage tiers, which were implemented during the Great Recession by automakers to save on costs.

Stellantis agreed to eliminate wage tiers for some workers and would cut the hourly wage progression timeline in half to four years.

“This would bring all current full-time hourly workers to the top rate during this next agreement,” the company said.

Stellantis conceded additional inflation protection measures to alleviate the hardship of inflation for employees since the COVID-19 pandemic and more than $1 billion in retirement security improvements.

The automaker also criticized UAW’s descriptions of the automaker’s plans to close or sell 18 facilities and said that it plans to run parts distribution centers more efficiently, as it shifts toward making electric vehicles.

The Detroit firm also promised that jobs in these plants would be persevered.

Negotiations Remain in Deadlock

Despite negotiations with Stellantis being deadlocked, UAW said its negotiations with Ford were “reasonably productive.”

However, Mr. Fain attacked attempts by automakers to play hardball, accusing them of threatening layoffs of nonunion workers to get union members to settle sooner for less.

GM threatened to lay off 2,000 workers at a plant in Fairfax, Kansas, blaming the strike in Missouri for ending a union contract that provides supplemental unemployment benefits to the employees in Kansas.

Ford went further by laying off 600 workers at a facility in Wayne, Michigan, explaining that there was no work for them because of the strike.

Mr. Fain said UAW would not back down, and that it will continue to provide income for workers laid off because of the strike.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called for automakers on Sept. 15 to quickly offer union members favorable terms for a new contract and share evenly more of their record profits in recent years.

“Auto companies have seen record profits including the last few years because of the extraordinary skill and sacrifices of the UAW workers,” Mr. Fain said in a statement.

“Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with the workers.”

Sen. John Fetterman, (D-Pa.) arrived to join the strikers in Wayne, Michigan, and walked the picket line, reported NBC News.

“It’s just an honor to be here,” said Mr. Fetterman as he joined a group of UAW members on strike, adding, “I always stand for the union way of life.”

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