UAW Authorizes Strike At Plant That Is Hiring

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

Chrysler's GEMA Dundee plant -Photo: Toledo Blade

UAW Local members working at Chrysler’s Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance factory in Dundee, Michigan voted to authorize a strike [Ed: despite a no-strike agreement that was agreed to inexchange for Chrysler’s bailout] in advance of negotiations over local issues, particularly a recently announced rotating shift schedule that has created unrest at another Chrysler plant in the Detroit area. The proposed schedule is so unpopular that almost 99% of local members voted to authorize a strike if negotiations break down. The shifts, which rotate 12 hr day and night shifts week to week, are intended, Chrysler says, to maximize productivity. The UAW says it is to reduce overtime pay. The normal 3 shift model increases straight-time production by 20% to 120 hours per week.

Pentastar engine production at Trenton Engine Plant

Chrysler has been using that schedule at the Trenton South Engine Plant for almost a year. Workers were already unhappy about the schedule disrupting their lives and increasing child care costs but when mandatory overtime on Sundays was added last month UAW Local started raising safety and health issues related to the schedule.

Sergio Marchionne announcing $179 million investment to build 1.4L Fiat Multiair engines at the Dundee plant

This labor unrest takes place when both facilities are doing very well, or perhaps precisely because they are doing well. Chrysler has recently invested money in both facilities and demand is high for their products, making overtime costs an issue. The Dundee plant, in fact, is currently hiring and Trenton soon will be hiring more workers. Trenton South produces Chrysler’s new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine, already available in 10 Chrysler Group cars and trucks with more being adding next year, so demand is growing. It’s the foundation of Chrysler’s powertrain strategy. Chrysler has invested $114 million to reopen the site’s Trenton North facility for production of the Pentastar and the plant will be adding 268 jobs. At the Dundee facility, originally a joint venture with Hyundai and Mitsubishi, already produced variants of Chrysler’s “ world engine“. Chrysler has invested $179 million to add production of Fiat’s 1.4-liter, 16-valve “MultiAir” FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotized Engine) motor. So far, a additional 100 people have been hired at Dundee. The currently produce about 400 engines a day that get shipped to Mexico, where Fiat 500s for the North American market are assembled. Production is being increased, and hiring for a second shift is open until early October.

Pentastar engine production at Trenton Engine Plant

Ronnie Schreiber
Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

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  • Sunplaza Sunplaza on Sep 20, 2011

    And we still wonder why overseas car makers are taking over market share? Seriously people, we need to have realistic expectations. This is a global market. We don't have Chinese cars in our markets yet but do you remember when we downplayed the Japanese cars coming to America? In less than 10 years there will be quality Chinese cars in the American market and US unions will be the reason the Chinese take over the market.

  • Center Center on Sep 20, 2011

    I could sit here for hours and not know where to start in light of the sheer bulk of ignorant posts here. First of all, enough about the trouble the UAW will be in if GEMA strikes. GEMA is a subsidiary of Chrysler. It is not a Chrysler plant. Drive past the plant and see how many Chrysler logos you can find. How about zee-ro? So posts about that are nonsense. GEMA has every right to strike. But most of the workers feel mislead on the strike vote. A very large portion of us voted to strike because of the difficulties a totally unnecessary rotation schedule causes. Few of us knew that our UAW Chairman had already announced that we would NOT strike over a rotation issue. For years, our plant UAW officers have given us lip service of how the mighty UAW was going to end rotation. After all the bluster, acting, and phony brotherhood talk, it boiled down that the Union didn't lift a finger to stop rotation. Even our plant UAW officials moaned about that. If that wasn't an act too. Make no mistake. This is not about the UAW and Chrysler. It's about the workers in the middle of a company insensitive to the plethora of medical problems associated with shift rotation, and a Union that did zilch to stop it. We know why. And if I laid it out here, you'd ask me if I was wearing my tinfoil hat to keep the Mothership from reading my thoughts. One thing is very clear to many of us. Our only voice, the UAW, loves to hand out surveys to find out what we want. Then they tell us what we want. Here's something from the other side many of you don't know. When they started rotation at GEMA, the plant manager Bruce Baumbach, announced...vehemently...that EVERYONE was going to rotate. Salaried AND hourly. You love this. Guess how long the salaried work force rotated? [drum roll please] It was about 8 days according to most people I asked. No, they were not going to have any part in turning THEIR private lives inside out. Continue the evacuation by noting that ALL of our Technicians got off rotation not long after that. The only salaried people in the plant that have rotated after that, were our Operations Managers. Most of whom are pretty ticked off at the thought of rotating again. And many other salaried workers have expressed a strong disappointment in anyone returning to rotation. Some of you make a lot of silly claims. One of my favorites on the Global Engine threads is about us shutting up and stopping the whining. That's usually followed up by the droll, "You're lucky to have a job." Well Mr. Gotcha!, we know that. Now I'm going to give you all the points, and stop griping about rotation, and working conditions, if you'll promise to do this. If you have a daughter who says a guy is making unwelcome advances toward her at work, say, "Dear, quit your whining. You're lucky to have a job." Deal? How about your father who said he was put on a dangerous and back-breaking job because he got into it with his boss? You say, "Stop whining Dad?" Yeah. Sure you would. Here are some bottom lines. You may be mad at Unions. We are not the Union. And the UAW only wants us to become a Chrysler plant to gain even more control over us. And GEMA could EASILY work 3 crews, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and get 120 hours of work without a dime of overtime. Here's something else you don't know. NO ONE....NO ONE (hourly or salaried) disputes the FACT that automation is why we haven't been getting our numbers. Automation that salaried people shopped for, bought, installed , created maintenance schedules for, repair, and keep parts for. It looks like we WANT all this overtime. Almost every week, 2 days of overtime is mandatory. One of the great ironies at GEMA is that the hourly work force is working their brains out to make up for automation completely in the hands of the company. That doesn't bother anyone I know. We DO want the company to do well. Do very well. No one wants to hurt our employer. And in case it never occurred to you, the best way to ask for something from a company, is to make them rich. Right? Right. No slowdowns. No sabotage. No stealing. Just Ladies and Gentlemen, trying to honestly use what little influence we have, to keep from getting sick. To be able to go to school, or play (every week) on a softball team. Some people stand to pay $1500 a month in child care because they can no longer work out where one parent is home days, and one nights. I know I've stayed too long. And, I suppose I AM as desperate as I sound. We have NO ONE to turn to. When our own Plant Manager declared his hands were tied, we knew our last chance was public opinion. Since the Union has done squat, WE started calling the newspapers and television stations. If you can't handle it within the plant, what else could we do? And we are NOT lying about the problems with shift rotation. We feel GEMA should be a good corporate citizen and help hold down skyrocketing health care costs. Rotation is certainly not a way to do that. We begged the UAW for help and locally, regionally, and nationally, they still sit on their hands. We are not bad, greedy people. I hope you'll at least consider buying American cars, and particularly Chryslers. I hope you might use some of your energy to help us, help Chrysler, and put the UAW on track of serving rather than dictating. And I sincerely mean this: Peace. And God Bless America.

  • Ltcmgm78 Imagine the feeling of fulfillment he must have when he looks upon all the improvements to the Corvette over time!
  • ToolGuy "The car is the eye in my head and I have never spared money on it, no less, it is not new and is over 30 years old."• Translation please?(Theories: written by AI; written by an engineer lol)
  • Ltcmgm78 It depends on whether or not the union is a help or a hindrance to the manufacturer and workers. A union isn't needed if the manufacturer takes care of its workers.
  • Honda1 Unions were needed back in the early days, not needed know. There are plenty of rules and regulations and government agencies that keep companies in line. It's just a money grad and nothing more. Fain is a punk!
  • 1995 SC If the necessary number of employees vote to unionize then yes, they should be unionized. That's how it works.