Nearly 7,000 workers have walked out of Stellantis’ most profitable plant in a major escalation of the ongoing United Auto Workers strike.
Monday’s walk-out has shut down production at the Chrysler-parent company’s 5million-square-foot Sterling Heights plant in Michigan where they make RAM 1500 pick-up trucks.
The UAW said they were walking out as Stellantis has the ‘worst proposal’ on the table in terms of wage increases, temporary worker pay and conversion to full time status as well as cost-of-living adjustments.
It is a major escalation of the month old strike which has seen more than 40,000 workers walk out at Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
UAW President Shawn Fain addressed workers outside the plant and handed out placards
There are now 45 plants on strike, with 9,375 workers striking at 20 General Motor plants, 14,750 at 22 Stellantis plants and 16,600 at three Ford plants.
Monday’s walk-out comes days after the President of UAW, Shawn Fain, said he had received a new offer from Stellantis – a 23 per cent wage increase – but that more work needed to be done.
The UAW demands include a 40 percent raise.
Factory workers in the auto industry earn an average of $28 per hour, but ‘top tier’ workers who have been at companies the longest take home about $33 an hour. The UAW wants to end the tiered system.
President Biden supported striking workers at a picket in Michigan in September, when he urged them to ‘stick with it’ to get ‘the significant raise you need’.
In a video posted on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Fain could be seen greeting members outside the Stellantis plant on Monday morning and handing out placards.
Addressing the workers, Mr Fain said: ‘We are where we are. They know where we need to be. We can get there.
‘We can get a deal done this week, but we gotta get serious, the company has gotta get serious, and get down to business.
President Joe Biden supported striking workers at a picket in Michigan in September, when he urged them to ‘stick with it’ to get ‘the significant raise you need’
Workers walked out of the Stellantis plant on Monday morning in a massive escalation of the ongoing UAW strikes (credit WXYZ)
RAM trucks are manufactured at the Sterling Heights plant where production is being halted by strikes
‘We don’t want our members out here. We want to get our members off the picket lines and back to work building the greatest product in America, but we want our fair share.’
Sterling Heights Assembly is a major profit center for Stellantis. It is where they manufacture the country’s best-selling vehicle, RAM trucks.
UAW went on strike Sept. 15 at one assembly plant from each company, but that has rapidly expanded as they failed to reach an agreement.
The strikes, which could continue for weeks and grow to include thousands more staff, have already cost the the US economy $7.7 billion, according to analysts.
UAW are employing a new tactic to striking by slowly increasing the number of workers walking-out, rather than calling an all out strike.
Fain said on Friday that while Detroit’s automakers have increased their wage and benefit offers, he believes the union can gain more if it holds out longer in contract talks.
A spokesperson for Stellantis said: ‘We are outraged that the UAW has chosen to expand its strike action against Stellantis.
‘Last Thursday morning, Stellantis presented a new, improved offer to the UAW, including 23% wage increases over the life of the contract, nearly a 50% increase in our contributions to the retirement savings plan, and additional job security protections for our employees.
‘Following multiple conversations that appeared to be productive, we left the bargaining table expecting a counter-proposal, but have been waiting for one ever since.
‘Our very strong offer would address member demands and provide immediate financial gains for our employees. Instead, the UAW has decided to cause further harm to the entire automotive industry as well as our local, state and national economies.
‘The UAW’s continued disturbing strategy of “wounding” all the Detroit 3 will have long-lasting consequences. With every decision to strike, the UAW sacrifices domestic market share to non-union competition.
These actions not only decrease our market share, but also impact our profitability and therefore, our ability to compete, invest and preserve the record profit sharing payments our employees have enjoyed over the past two years.’