DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union has expanded its strike against General Motors, the lone holdout among Detroit’s three automakers, after reaching a tentative contract agreement with Jeep maker Stellantis.
The escalated strike began Saturday evening at a plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, GM’s largest plant in North America, just hours after the Stellantic deal was finalized. Its nearly 4,000 workers join about 14,000 strikers already striking at GM factories in Texas, Michigan and Missouri.
The UAW did not immediately explain what prompted the new action after 44 days of targeted attacks. The additional pressure on GM is significant because Spring Hill produces engines for vehicles assembled in a total of nine plants as far away as Mexico, including Silverado and Sierra pickups. A factory in Arlington, Texas, already on strike and supplying engines, makes full-size SUVs, including the Tahoe and Suburban. Vehicles assembled in Spring Hill include the Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Acadia and Cadillac electric crossover SUVs.
“The Spring Hill strike is having such a significant impact on GM’s production that the company will likely calm down quickly or shut down most production,” said Erik Gordon, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. The union wants to complete negotiations with all three automakers so that “Ford and Stellantis workers don’t reject their tentative agreements because they want to see what GM workers get.”
The Stellantis deal mirrors an agreement with Ford last week and saves jobs at a factory in Belvidere, Illinois, that Stellantis had planned to close, the UAW said.
On Sunday, the leaders of the local unions involved voted to approve their tentative contract with Ford after UAW President Shawn Fain said so, said a union official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The number of votes was initially not known.
Fain planned to address the full membership on Facebook later on Sunday, which will now vote on the pact.
GM said it was disappointed by the additional strike at the Spring Hill plant, which has 11 million square feet of building space, “given the progress we have made.” A statement said they had negotiated in good faith and wanted to finalize a deal as quickly as possible.
In a statement, Fain decried what he called “GM’s unnecessary and irresponsible refusal to reach a fair agreement.”
“Everyone is really excited and excited,” Larry Montgomery, an assembly line worker in Spring Hill, said by phone Sunday. He said workers were caught off guard by the strike call. “We thought it would happen sooner.”
John Rutherford, president of UAW Local 1853 in Spring Hill, did not immediately return a telephone message.
Fain said in a video appearance On Saturday evening, 43,000 Stelantis members would have to vote on the deal – just like the Ford workers. Approximately 14,000 UAW workers went on strike at two Stellantis assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio and at several parts distribution centers across the country. The company manufactures Jeep and Ram vehicles.
The pact calls for a general wage increase of 25% over the next four and a half years for top workers in assembly plants, with 11% to come after the agreement is ratified. Workers will also receive compensation equal to their cost of living, which would bring the total increase to 33%, with top workers at assembly plants making more than $42 an hour. At Stellantis, top executives now earn around $31 an hour.
Like the Ford contract, the Stellantis deal would run until April 30, 2028.
As part of the agreement, the union said it also saved jobs in Belvidere, as well as at an engine plant in Trenton, Michigan, and a machining plant in Toledo, Ohio.
“We reopened a closed assembly plant,” Fain said. The deal includes a commitment from Stellantis to build a new mid-size internal combustion engine truck at the Belvidere plant, which was scheduled to close. About 1,200 workers would be rehired and another 1,000 workers would be hired for a new electric vehicle battery plant, the union said.
Vice President Rich Boyer, who led the Stellantis talks, said the workforce at the Toledo, Ohio, processing plant will be doubled. He said the union has won $19 billion in investments nationwide
Fain said Stellantis had proposed cutting 5,000 U.S. jobs, but the union’s strike resulted in 5,000 jobs being created by the end of the contract.
Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan, said the Stellantis deal “shows that the auto companies feel they are at the mercy of the UAW, that the UAW will not grant clemency and that the companies are co-governed by their boards of directors.” the UAW.”
He said rival companies with non-union workforces, including Toyota and Tesla, “couldn’t have gotten a better end-of-year gift.”
Under the Stellantis contract, a top worker’s base pay at an assembly plant will exceed all increases in the last 22 years. A statement said starting salaries for new hires, including cost-of-living adjustments, will rise 67% to more than $30 an hour. Temporary workers will receive raises of more than 165%, while parts center workers will receive an immediate 76% raise if the contract is ratified.
As with the Ford agreement, it will take just three years for new workers to reach the top of the assembly wage scale, the union said.
The union has also been given the right to strike over plant closures at Stellantis and can strike if the company fails to meet its product and investment commitments, Fain said.
Bruce Baumhower, president of the local union at a large Stellantis Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio, which has been on strike since September, said he expects workers to vote for the deal because of wage increases of more than 30% and a whopping 11%. increase immediately. “For me it is a historic agreement.”
Some union members had complained that Fain had promised raises of 40% to match the raises he said were paid to the companies’ CEOs, but Baumhower said that was merely an opening offer.
“Ultimately, the numbers they agreed to were exactly what the UAW wanted,” said Jermaine Antwine, a 48-year-old Stellantis worker who was picketing the automaker’s Sterling Heights, Michigan, plant on Saturday. The Pontiac, Michigan, man is a materials team leader at the plant and has worked for the automaker for 24 years.
Negotiations between the UAW and Stellantis intensified on Thursday, a day after the Ford deal was announced.
The union began targeted strikes against all three automakers on September 15 after their contracts with the companies expired. At its peak, about 46,000 workers went on strike against all three companies, about a third of the three Detroit companies’ 146,000 union members.
With the Ford deal, which served as a model for the other two companies, workers with pensions will see small raises upon retirement, while those hired after 2007 with 401(k) plans will get large raises.
Other union leaders who have pursued aggressive bargaining strategies in recent months have also won wage increases and other benefits for their members. Last month, the union representing Hollywood writers called off a nearly five-month strike after achieving some success in compensation, tenure and other areas.
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