The United Auto Workers (UAW) has decided to broaden its strike on Friday. This week’s targets include Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, responsible for the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, and General Motors’ Lansing Delta Township Assembly, responsible for the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.
Stellantis managed to dodge the bullet this time around, with union leadership citing progress made in contract negotiations. It seems the union liked what the automaker had to say regarding the right to strike over plant closures and cost-of-living adjustments. Ford managed to achieve something similar last week. But with the UAW hoping to pit the companies against each other by subjecting them all to strikes, it was inevitable that Blue Oval would be back under union scrutiny.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) is commencing contract negotiations with General Motors, Stellantis, and the Ford Motor Company this week. Members of the union’s executive board, along with UAW President Shawn Fain, appeared outside Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly Plant early Wednesday morning to draw attention to the talks.
The plan is to see each manufacturer as a preamble to the formal negotiations, which technically begin on Friday. But the union is also desperate to show itself in a better light after expansive corruption scandals implicated some of its now-ousted top brass. For most people living in North America, wages haven’t kept pace with the cost of living and inflationary pressures are exacerbating the issue. If there was ever a time to get the American public back on the side of unions, it’s now.
Over the weekend, Shawn Fain was declared the winner over incumbent Ray Curry in the United Auto Workers’ presidential runoff election. While the race was tight, and the results had to be delayed so a federally appointed monitor to examine some 1,600 challenged ballots, members effectively voted out the Reuther Administrative Caucus which has controlled the union for decades.
Unifor members overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with General Motors, effectively ending the union’s 2020 auto bargaining with Detroit automakers. Members backed the contract with 85 percent approval and secured meaningful investments into Canada’s automotive industry, including the $1 billion (USD) investment that saves Oshawa Assembly. It’s an important victory for the union and the Canadian auto workers it represents.
“This contract solidifies and boldly builds on GM’s Canadian footprint, with a $1.3 billion dollar investment that brings 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Jobs at all three Canadian sites are secure for the life of this agreement, including at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre, which will also see upgrades.”
Unifor has selected the Ford Motor Company as its target for collective bargaining. Once negotiations conclude, the union will be using the terms established with the automaker to lay the groundwork for pattern deals with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
While the talks have not yet begun, we already know Unifor wants to cement production commitments in Oakville, Ontario, where Ford is rumored to be ending Edge assembly. It would also like to secure deals for FCA plants in Brampton and Windsor. Naturally, the union will also be demanding wage increases — though this is sometimes the most contentious issue. Contract talks from 2016 became stuck in the mud over higher pay until Ford insisted employees remain subject to a 10-year wage grow-in that union members had been split on. It’s unclear if that will remain the case in 2020 but we genuinely haven’t had high hopes for the Union pulling out anything that resembles a major victory.
With its members having recently voted to strike if bargaining teams don’t make headway, Canadian autoworkers union Unifor plans to reveal its first target next Tuesday. Contract talks kicked off last month, with Unifor aiming to maintain, at the very least, the current complement of Detroit Three workers north of the border.
With the auto industry in continued retreat in Canada, Unifor knows that the next four years could be the term in which one of the Detroit Three ceases to manufacture vehicles on Canuck soil. What’s left in the country is starting to look threadbare and futureless. Maybe some public cash will sweeten the landscape?
Unifor will take on the Detroit automakers this week, with the Canadian union undoubtedly planning to do everything within its power to keep as many jobs as it can manage. Unfortunately, that might be easier said than done, what with vehicle demand suppressed by months of lockdowns and an associated economic recession. Despite the positivity surrounding Wall Street, regular folks aren’t in the mood to buy lately.
No matter. Union negotiations are always famously contentious anyway. Corporations want rock-bottom prices for top-shelf work and labor associations always have to ask for more to rationalize their existence. Unifor President Jerry Dias noted that he’s ready for whatever the Big Three throw at him, though we doubt it will include totally sweet offers for line workers. The best the union can probably hope for in 2020 is not losing more Canadian jobs than absolutely necessary.
Canadian auto manufacturing has steadily declined over the past several decades, and the future looks cloudy for workers at Detroit Three plants. It’s under this gathering gloom that the union representing these workers, Unifor, enters into contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler.
The last round of collective bargaining was rough, but the near-closure of GM’s Oshawa Assembly (where auto production ceased last year) provided Unifor with a grim portent of what could await other underutilized Canuck plants.
Detroit Three automobile production will rise 5 percent in the U.S. over the life of the recent four-year UAW contract, with Mexican assembly plants cranking out 11-percent fewer vehicles over the agreement’s lifespan, but there’s little good news for the snowy land north of the U.S. border.
By 2023, Detroit Three production is expected to decline by a whopping 27 percent in Canada, continuing a decades-long trend. Labor contracts expire this year, so what’s a union to do?
Concessions made to the United Auto Workers by the Detroit Three during last fall’s bargaining talks will weigh on the automakers’ bottom lines, but none more so than Fiat Chrysler’s.
Labor costs stand to jump significantly at FCA, partially erasing the cost advantage it enjoyed over Ford and General Motors.
The latest round of Detroit Three labor wrangling has wrapped out without a second strike. In side-stepping the same walkout that plagued General Motors earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler has made itself all the more attractive to its corporate fiancé, Groupe PSA.
Late Wednesday, FCA announced its workers had voted to approve the tentative four-year labor agreement reached between it and the United Auto Workers.
After UAW-affiliated Ford workers ratified a collective agreement Friday, Fiat Chrysler is next — and last — in line to hammer out a deal with the union. Ford has an easy go of it, requiring just five days of bargaining before reaching a tentative deal; earlier, General Motors suffered financial hardship after its U.S. workforce walked off the job for 40 days.
Being first at the table, GM’s bargaining is seen as the heaviest lifting of the Detroit Three. Its deal serves as a model for others to follow, and you can be sure the wage increases, pathways to full-time employment, and status-quo healthcare benefits contained within will be held up by UAW bargaining team members when they face the FCA team.
However, for FCA, the nature of the automaker’s workforce could make reaching a deal a rocky journey.
Our last update on the GM-UAW strike revolved around union reps playing hardball on issues like health care, wages, temporary employees, skilled trades, and job security. The United Auto Workers sent General Motors’ proposals back, holding its nose in disapproval.
With the strike now roughly one month deep and looking like it may disrupt the automaker’s well-laid plans, GM is firing back by suggesting the workers’ union is intentionally wasting everybody’s time. The company’s latest contract offer was issued Monday, with the union having yet to offer any formal feedback. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra even joined negotiations on Wednesday in an effort to speed up discussions. But the UAW has said it will only issue a counter proposal after five separate committees address a “series of issues” and the automaker publicly furnishes its suggestions.
“We object to having bargaining placed on hold pending a resolution of these five areas,” Scott Sandefur, GM’s vice president of North American labor relations, wrote to UAW Vice President Terry Dittes on Thursday. “As we have urged repeatedly, we should engage in bargaining over all issues around-the-clock to get an agreement.”
With the UAW currently coping with a high-profile corruption scandal in the United States, news of Germany’s widespread auto strikes has taken a backseat in domestic media. Last Friday, IG Metall concluded its third day of striking against Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Porsche, Audi, VW, and BMW.
However the 72-hours of downtime may only be the appetizer in the German union’s strike-buffet. While both IG Metall and the manufacturers have expressed a willingness to resume talks on Monday, the union remains on the cusp of a vote that could extend striking indefinitely. Here’s why they are so pissed:
The former president of the United Automobile Workers, Bob King, says he supports President Trump’s plan to reconfigure the North American Free Trade Agreement — so long as it maintains labor’s best interests. Ironically, King’s support of the president’s trade plan came as he attended an Ann Arbor rally in support of an EPA testing facility in danger of being closed due to Trump administration budget cuts.
King, who served as the union’s president from 2010 to 2014, faults the trade pact for a loss of American jobs. It’s his belief that NAFTA allowed automakers to invest in more-affordable regions — like Mexico — at the expensive of the United States’ workforce. His successor, Dennis Williams, has echoed these claims and also wishes to see NAFTA reformed.
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