UAW reaches tentative agreement with Stellantis

UAW reaches tentative agreement with Stellantis

New York

United Auto Workers Union It reached a tentative agreement with Stellantis on Saturday. But it expanded the scope of the strike against General Motors, America’s largest automaker and the last remaining of the Big Three. Shattered hopes He was about to finish the last remaining automatic strike.

The deal with Stellantis, which makes cars under the Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep brands, was announced Saturday by UAW President Sean Fine and Vice President Rich Boyer, the union’s chief negotiator in the talks. They hailed it as a major victory The tentative agreement includes reviving an Illinois assembly plant that closed in February, originally putting 1,200 people out of work, among other victories for the union.

“On the 44th day of our standby strike, I am proud to announce that our union has once again prevailed. Once again, just weeks ago we achieved what we were told was impossible,” said Sean Fine. The video was posted on Xformerly known as Twitter.

The 14,600 UAW members who went on strike in Stellantis will return to work within days. But nearly 4,000 workers at the General Motors plant that makes Cadillac and GMC SUVs in Spring Hill, Tennessee, joined the strike at 5 p.m. Central time.

“We are disappointed in the actions of the UAW in light of the progress we have made,” GM said in a statement about expanding the strike. “We have continued to bargain in good faith with the UAW, and our goal remains to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

Fein did not mention the talks with GM or explain the decision to expand the strike there. The Union published a Summary statement On X: “UAW expands strike against third company, orders workers out of GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant in Tennessee.”

It has previously expanded the scope of the strike five times since it began on September 15 in an attempt to increase pressure on the Big Three. This is the first time that Finn was not the one who announced the expansion, and the first time that the guild has done so without explaining why this step was taken.

The UAW Stellantis National Council will vote on whether or not to send the tentative agreement to the broader membership on Nov. 2, Fine said. After that, the company’s 43,000 regular UAW members will get a chance to vote on whether or not to ratify the deal. It must be ratified by both parties in order to enter into force.

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The tentative agreement with Stellantis on Saturday follows a similar agreement reached with Ford on Wednesday. The Ford deal also still needs to be ratified by Ford’s rank-and-file members before it goes into effect, just as the Stellantis deal will need membership approval as well.

Many details of the agreement with Stellantis are not yet known. But the pay is along the same lines as the Ford deal, meaning an immediate minimum raise of 11%, and additional pay increases that would bring the total raise to 25% over the contract’s four-and-a-half-year term. It is also expected to include a cost-of-living wage adjustment to protect members from rising prices.

COLA was something the union abandoned when Chrysler, Stellanti’s predecessor, was in dire straits, headed toward bankruptcy and a federal bailout. But Stellantis has seen a boon lately, with the company now generating record profits. Guaranteed wage increases, combined with COLA, can raise total wages by more than 30% over the life of the contract.

But the biggest surprise in the Stellantis deal is that the UAW said the company has agreed to reopen a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, which had closed on February 28, putting 1,200 workers out of work. The plant will get a midsize truck to replace the Jeep Cherokee compact SUV built there.

“We did the impossible. We moved mountains. We reopened the assembly plant that the company had closed,” Fine said.

The Stellantis and Ford deals give union workers big pay raises and benefits to deal with inflation that has eroded workers’ paychecks. The last contract was reached in 2019, before wild price increases began in the wake of the pandemic.

Automakers typically offer union members similar deals across companies, so GM’s negotiations are expected to yield similar benefits for autoworkers.

The union also secured promises of new products for two other plants that faced possible future closures — an engine plant in Trenton, Michigan, and a machinery manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio, that makes parts for transmissions, among others, Fine said. .products. Neither motors nor transmissions are needed in electric cars.

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The union is concerned that jobs for workers who make engines, transmissions and other parts of cars no longer needed for electric vehicles could be eliminated as automakers change their vehicle lineups from gas-powered vehicles to electric drive vehicles.

The company entered into talks with plans to eliminate an additional 5,000 UAW-represented jobs over the life of the contract, Fine said. With the product commitments Stellantis has agreed to in this contract, it will, he said instead of Increases the number of UAW employees at the company by 5,000 under the terms of the tentative agreement.

If everyone agrees After the Big Three are reached and ratified, it will likely put an end to the longest strike by auto workers in 25 years.

In addition to the wage increases in the Ford deal, the union also won improved pension benefits for senior workers with a traditional pension plan, and increased company contributions to 401(k) accounts for workers hired since 2007. But the union did not do that. Achieving its goal of resuming traditional retirement plans for those hired after 2007, or returning health care coverage to retirees.

The union also received improved job guarantees, including the right to go back on strike in protest against the closure of a factory during the term of the contract. Previous contracts always included a no-strike clause while the contract was in force.

Ford’s certification process is scheduled to begin Sunday with a meeting in Detroit of local union officials who represent the company’s workers across the country. While the deal includes record gains for the union, with double-digit wage increases, its ratification is not certain. A similar process will begin on Thursday for Stellantis.

In general, the union will not allow strikers to return to work until the initial labor agreement is ratified. But the UAW put workers back on the job at Ford while the certification process was underway. This increased pressure on GM and Stellantis to quickly reach their own deals with the union.

“The last thing they want is for Ford to return to full capacity while it’s messing around and falling behind,” UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, Ford’s chief union negotiator, said in comments to members Wednesday night.

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Some members have already returned to work at Ford as the company prepares to resume operations, said Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, which represents workers at the Kentucky Truck Plant, Ford’s largest plant. Others are scheduled to return on Saturday. He added that the plan is for the factory to be fully operational by Monday.

With the initial agreements between Ford and Stellantis, it seemed as if the strike might reach a complete resolution relatively soon. But the expansion of the strike at GM makes things more uncertain in the coming days.

It was the union On strike since September 15 against General Motors, Stellantis and Ford, marking the first time the union has struck all three companies simultaneously. The union represents 145,000 workers between the three companies, but not all of its members went on strike.

Instead, it launched targeted strikes on specific factories. It began with a walkout of 12,700 members at one assembly plant at each company, and the strike has been expanded five times since. At the time the Ford deal was announced, there were 16,600 strikers at Ford, 14,200 at General Motors and 14,600 at Stellantis.

Recently, the number of union members reached 6,800 Exit at the Stellantis factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan, on Monday, and 5,000 members went on strike at General Motors’ largest plant in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday, shortly after GM said it was stronger than expected. Quarterly profits.

GM said in its earnings report that it lost $200 million during the first two weeks of the strike in late September, and another $600 million in the first three weeks of October. But the Arlington plant closure alone would likely cause an additional $130 million in losses per week, according to an estimate by Colin Langan, an auto analyst at Wells Fargo.

Stellantis did not provide an estimate of the loss from the strike, but Langan estimates that the Sterling Heights plant strike brings its weekly losses by $110 million a week to $200 million.

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