UAW
A picketer milking the moment outside Mack's facilities in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Ram, GM plants latest target of UAW's rolling strike strategy; Mack strikes back

Oct. 25, 2023
Nearly 7,000 workers at Stellantis’ Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan joined the strike against the Big Three U.S. automakers the same day Mack Trucks hoped to resume negotiations with union workers who walked out two weeks ago.

The United Auto Workers launched a second surprise strike this week at Stellantis' Ram assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with 6,800 autoworkers refusing to work. Additionally, 5,000 more UAW members went on strike at General Motors' largest and most profitable assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. With the 11,800 new striking union members, the Detroit Big Three's automotive and truck plants are down 45,000 workers. The UAW is demanding higher wages, better benefits, and job security.

The strikes are significantly impacting the light-duty vehicle industry, disrupting the production of some of the most popular vehicles in the U.S., including Ford's biggest plant in Louisville, Kentucky, where the F-Series Super Duty trucks are built. The strikes started on Sept. 15, and in lieu of a massive general strike, the UAW has opted to select strategic targets to improve their position in negotiations.

“We’re just sending a message,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “We’re done. We’ve tried to do things the right way. We've taken our time. We’ve been patient with these companies. It's time to amp up the pressure."

The UAW previously suggested Stellantis may move production of the Ram 1500 to Mexico, though the OEM would neither confirm nor deny that. Fain told CNBC in August that such a move “be a huge mistake on the part of Stellantis to try it.”

Stellantis has said it is outraged by the strike and has made a fair offer. However, the UAW leadership contends that Stellantis has the worst contract proposal of the Big Three regarding wage progression, temporary worker pay, and conversion to full-time, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and more.

In a Facebook Live presentation, UAW President Shawn Fain said that Stellantis, Ford, and General Motors still have "money left to spend." He added that the offers on the table currently include:

  • A 23% wage increase at all three automakers.
  • The end of a tiered system by seniority for worker pay and benefits. All workers would earn the highest wage for their position within three to four years of employment.
  • Temporary-worker wages up to $21 an hour, from $16.67, with a shorter period to become permanent employees.
  • The right to strike for plant closures at Ford and Stellantis.
  • Increases in employer pension contributions.

Stellantis has said it is willing to continue bargaining, but the UAW has yet to respond.

More on Mack strike

On the same day, UAW negotiators expected to return to the bargaining table with heavy-duty OEM Mack Trucks, where another 3,900 UAW members went on strike Oct. 9 at Mack facilities in three states.

Last week, Mack leaders called the UAW’s latest list of demands unreasonable after the union initially agreed to a new contract offer on Oct. 1 before formally walking out a week later. Mack Trucks is a subsidiary of the Volvo Group, which also produces Volvo Trucks in North America.

“Unfortunately, the new UAW economic demands are completely unrealistic,” Mack President Stephen Roy said on Oct. 19. “We’ve already shown that we’re prepared to provide our employees with significantly improved wages, but we are not prepared to jeopardize the company.”

On Monday, UAW leaders laid out their spin on the Mack Trucks strike in an X video post:

Mack union employees in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida voted against a contract offer that included a 10% wage increase in the first year, a 20% increase in wages over five years, and no increase in health insurance premiums for the duration of the contract.

Read more coverage of the UAW strike at Ford, GM, and Stellantis plants from Senior Editor Laura Putre of Endeavor Business Media’s IndustryWeek, a Fleet Maintenance affiliate publication.

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Technology Editor

Josh Fisher is the technology editor for Fleet Owner.

About the Author

Laura Putre

Senior Editor, IndustryWeek

Focus: IndustryWeek Contributors, Leadership, Automotive

Email: [email protected]

Call: (954) 361-1535

Twitter: @LauraPutre

Linkedin

Senior Editor Laura Putre manages IW contributors and covers leadership as it applies to executive best practices, corporate culture, corporate responsibility, growth strategies, managing and training talent, and strategic planning.

A former newspaper journalist, Laura has written for Slate, The Root, the Chicago Tribune, the Guardian and many other publications.

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