UAW reaches tentative agreement with Stellandis

New York

United Auto Workers Union Stellandis reached a tentative agreement with Saturday. But it widened the strike against General Motors, America’s largest automaker and the last remaining holdout of the Big Three. It believes it is close to ending both strikes.

The deal with Stellandis, which makes vehicles under the Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep brands, was announced Saturday by UAW President Shawn Fine and Vice President Rich Boyer, the union’s lead negotiator in the talks. They hailed it as a great success The tentative agreement includes the revival of an Illinois assembly plant that closed in February, initially laying off 1,200 jobs, among other wins for the union.

“On the 44th day of our stand-up strike, I am proud to announce that our union has won again. Once again, we have achieved what we were told was impossible just a few weeks ago,” said Shaun Fine. Video posted on XFormerly known as Twitter.

The 14,600 UAW members on strike at Stellandis will return to work within days. But nearly 4,000 GM factory workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which make Cadillac and GMC SUVs, joined the strike at 5 p.m. CT.

“We are disappointed by the UAW’s action in light of the progress we have made,” GM said in a statement about the strike extension. “We continue to negotiate in good faith with the UAW, and our goal is to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

Fain did not comment on negotiations with GM or the decision to extend the strike. The extension of the strike was confirmed by a source familiar with the situation, and was posted on the Facebook page of a local union in Tennessee that represents members.

The union has extended the scope of the strike, which began on September 15, five times in a bid to increase pressure on the Big Three. This is the first time Fein has not announced an expansion.

The UAW National Workers’ Council will vote Nov. 2 on whether to send the tentative agreement to the broader membership, Fine said. After that, the 43,000 rank-and-file UAW members at the company will have an opportunity to vote on whether to ratify the contract. It must be approved by both parties for it to take effect.

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The tentative agreement with Stellandis follows a similar agreement reached with Ford on Wednesday. Just as the Stellandis deal requires membership approval, the Ford deal still needs to be approved by rank-and-file members at Ford before it can take effect.

Many details of the deal with Stellandis are still unknown. But pay remains the same as in the Ford contract, which includes at least an 11% raise immediately and additional pay increases that will bring the total raises to 25% over the four-and-a-half-year life of the contract. Wages are expected to include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to protect members against rising prices.

A COLA was abandoned by the union when Stellandis’ predecessor, Chrysler, was in dire straits and headed for bankruptcy and a federal bailout. But Stellandis has seen a recent boon, with the company now posting record profits. Guaranteed wage increases, combined with COLA, can raise total wages by more than 30% during the contract.

But the biggest surprise in the Stellandis deal was that the UAW said the company agreed to reopen a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that closed on Feb. 28, putting 1,200 workers out of a job. The plant replaces the Jeep Cherokee compact SUV built there with a midsize truck.

“We’ve done the impossible. We’ve moved mountains. We’ve reopened an assembly plant that the company shut down,” Fine said.

Stellandis and Ford’s contracts give union workers substantial wage and benefit increases to help fight inflation. The last deal was reached in 2019, before runaway price hikes began following the pandemic.

Automakers typically offer union members similar contracts across companies, so GM negotiations are expected to yield similar benefits for auto workers.

Fein said the union has won promises for new products for two plants that may be closing in the future — an engine plant in Trenton, Michigan, and an engine plant in Toledo, Ohio, that make parts for transmissions, among others. products. Electric vehicles do not require engines or transmissions.

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The union is concerned that the jobs of workers who make engines, transmissions and other parts of cars that EVs don’t require could eliminate jobs as automakers shift their vehicle lineups from gas-powered cars to electric propulsion.

Fein said the company entered into negotiations with plans to cut 5,000 jobs represented by the UAW during the contract. With the product commitments that Stellandis agreed to in the deal, he said, it will come to fruition instead of Under the terms of the tentative agreement, increase the number of UAW workers at the company to 5,000.

If there are agreements with everyone Big Three Agreements Reached, Ending Auto Workers’ 25-Year Strike

In addition to wage increases in the Ford contract, the union has also won improved pension benefits for older workers with traditional pension plans. Resumption of traditional pension plans for post-2007 hires or rollback of health care coverage for retirees.

The union also won improved job guarantees, including the right to strike again against plant closings during the contract. Previous contracts always included a no-strike clause when the contract was in effect.

The ratification process at Ford is set to begin Sunday in Detroit with a meeting of local union officials representing the company’s workers across the country. Although the deal includes record gains for the union, including double-digit wage increases, ratification is not guaranteed. A similar process will begin Thursday for Stellandis.

Strikers typically do not return to work until a union has approved a temporary labor contract. But the UAW forced the workers back to work at Ford. This increased pressure on GM and Stellantis to quickly reach their own agreements with the union.

“The last thing they want is for Ford to go full capacity while they’re confused and behind,” UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, the Ford union’s chief negotiator, said in comments to members Wednesday night.

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Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, which represents workers at the Kentucky truck plant, Ford’s largest factory, said some members have returned to work at Ford. Others return on Saturday. The plan is to have the plant running at full capacity by Monday, he said.

As tentative agreements were reached between Ford and Stellandis, it appeared that the strike might have come to a complete resolution relatively soon. But the extension of the strike at GM makes things even murkier in the coming days.

There is a trade union Strike from September 15 Against GM, Stellantis and Ford, it was the first time the union had hit all three companies at once. The union represents 145,000 workers between the three companies, but not all of its members are on strike.

Instead, it is conducting strikes targeting specific factories. It started with a walkout of 12,700 members at an assembly plant in each company, and it has expanded the scope of the strike five times. At the time the Ford contract was announced, 16,600 members were on strike at Ford, 14,200 at GM and 14,600 at Stellandis.

Most recently the union had 6,800 members Walk outside the Stellandis plant On Monday in Sterling Heights, Michigan, 5,000 members went on strike at the largest GM plant in Arlington, Texas. Quarterly earnings.

In its earnings report, GM said it lost $200 million in the first two weeks of the strike in late September and another $600 million in the first three weeks of October. But closing the Arlington plant alone would result in an additional loss of $130 million per week, according to estimates by Colin Langen, an auto analyst at Wells Fargo.

Stellandis did not provide an estimate of the strike’s losses, but Langen estimates that the Sterling Heights plant is raising $110 million a week by $200 million.

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