Stellantis Introducing 84 Hour Work Week in Sterling Heights

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
stellantis introducing 84 hour work week in sterling heights

Stellantis is reportedly bringing back a controversial policy that would have skilled trade workers doing 12 hour days for 7 days a week as a way to maximize shift coverage. The original arrangement had staff pushing long hours only to be rewarded with a full week off. But it was temporarily nixed after workers complained about the schedule and fretted over how the change might impact benefits. An alternative schedule prioritizing flexibility was created, though the automaker (still owned by FCA at the time) stressed that it needed more tradespeople working on the weekends to help avoid production gaps.

The 84 hour week is now back, with Stellantis testing it out at Sterling Heights Assembly, where the Ram 1500 is manufactured. However, it doesn’t appear to have grown in popularity.

According to the Detroit Free Press, many workers saw it as an abandonment of commitments to the eight-hour day and blamed both Stellantis and their union for failing to have their backs. But they still had to vote on it. UAW Local 1700 counted hands on the policy in January, with staff selecting what they claimed was the best in a list of bad options. The alternative program would have had them rotating with each week swapping the days they’d be on site. While a decision had to be made, some union members made formal complaints that the UAW seemed to be working against its own core principals and expressed concerns that this would become the new normal.

From Freep:

An alternative work schedule for skilled trades was allowed as a result of the 2019 contract for then-FCA’s UAW members. The company has said alternative work schedules for skilled trades ensures plants have appropriate coverage levels across all production shifts, and the union was told weekends were a particular problem at high-volume plants like [Sterling Heights Assembly].

The plant has more than 7,800 workers, according to the company. Officials have said several hundred of them are skilled trades.

All but a couple of the dozens of skilled trades workers who have contacted the Free Press about the alternative work schedule have expressed frustration, saying they do not want to work 12-hour shifts over such a long stretch and be forced to work multiple weekend days in a month. They have expressed concern over its impact on overtime and other issues, too.

For what it’s worth, Stellantis knows that it needs to play catchup after pandemic-related lockdowns crippled supply chains and demand and this may be the best solution to maximize uptime. But we were less than impressed with its regurgitated, boilerplate response that basically blames Fiat Chrysler for any decisions it makes about scheduling: “During 2019 bargaining, FCA and the UAW agreed to a series of alternative work schedules for skilled trades to ensure the plants have the appropriate levels of coverage across all production shifts,” a spokesperson explained.

Interestingly, news of the schedule change has since been overshadowed by the announcement of payouts to about 43,000 Stellantis employees represented by the UAW. The $8,010 in profit sharing represents a modest but meaningful increase from the $7,280 checks issued last year.

“These figures demonstrate the financial soundness of Stellantis, bringing together two strong and healthy companies. Stellantis gets off to a flying start and is fully focused on achieving the full promised synergies,” the automaker said in the release.

[Image: Stellantis]

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  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Mar 04, 2021

    Many years ago I worked as a quality engineer in a large electronics assembly plant. Studying the root causes of workmanship related defects and scrap over a period spanning a full year, I found these types of defects increased anywhere from 3 to 5 times once that overtime exceeded between 25 to 30 hours a week. I interviewed many people, to seek an explanation. Those who spoke candidly mentioned that once you reach that threshold, your mind is so numb and your body aches so much that simply one didn’t give a sh!t about the job any more.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 05, 2021

    Take Stellantis only under doctors orders and don't take if you have high blood pressure, heart condition, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and if you are dead.

  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.