Negotiations continue after additional outings

Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit’s three automakers continued Sunday — the union’s 17th day of an unprecedented strike against Ford Motor Co., Stellandis NV and General Motors Co.

The strike began on September 15, when the UAW unleashed a targeted walkout strategy, beginning with plant stoppages at Ford’s Michigan Assembly, Stellandis’ Toledo Assembly Complex and GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri.

The strike expanded twice to include all Stellantis and GM parts distribution centers and added two SUV plants on Friday: GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant and Ford’s Chicago Assembly – 25,300 of the 146,000 UAW members at the companies are on strike. . The latest expansion at Stellantis’ facilities has been avoided since progress was made in negotiations with the Jeep and Ram producers’ union in 2009 on areas including suspended cost-of-living adjustments, the right not to cross the picket line, and the right to strike. Product liabilities and plant closures and an outsourcing ban.

“I actually took it as a big sigh of relief that Stellandis made such a significant move,” said Art Wheaton, an automotive expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

“To me, that’s great news. I was primarily concerned about Stellandis going in. I feel like they’re getting closer to the system, and they might actually stick to the system bargain.”

Ford had previously been spared the union’s first move to expand strike targets. Dearborn Car Manufacturing Company, Sept. The week before the 22nd saw progress in negotiations with the Dearborn automaker on cost-of-living adjustments, wage differentials at feeder plants and job security protections.

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Despite some progress on some items, Ford slammed the union Friday after a strike expansion that included the Chicago assembly plant where the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are built. Ford CEO Jim Farley has been accused of “holding the deal hostage” over the automaker’s four planned electric-vehicle battery plants in the United States.

Late Friday, GM CEO Mary Barra issued a scathing statement against the union, saying there was “no real intention of reaching an agreement.”

The automakers and the union are sharply divided over union demands such as pensions for all employees, retiree health care, a revamped jobs bank and a 36% wage increase over four years. The companies, which offer all of the union’s priorities, are competing with non-union rivals Tesla Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co are offering pay hikes of around 20%, while expressing concern that it will further widen the gap between employee costs. .

Detroit Three automaker costs are in the mid-$60 range, while foreign automakers’ labor costs are in the $50 range and Tesla Inc’s are in the high-$40 range.

As Stellandis and Ford make moves on cost-of-living increases, Wheaton thinks GM will be next.

“Maybe GM will follow suit … especially with all the firepower on the UAW side at the moment,” he said. “I haven’t heard a lot of criticism from the public.”

How I feel about picketing

Workers at Ford’s Michigan assembly plant that build the Bronco and Ranger are on strike for the third week.

“I want to go back to work, but only with the right contract,” said Patrick Smalley, who has been with Ford for 35 years.

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Smalley, 56, of Westland, is prepared to be out “however long it takes”.

Feelings about still being on strike are mixed in the picketing, Smalley said.

“Some people are ready for it, others may not be, and some say, ‘OK, I want to go back to work,’ but if we’ve got to do it, we’ve got to do it. Do it,” he said.

Fellow Michigan legislative staffer Kim McCartha, who has been with Ford since 2012, says the two sides are ready to come to an agreement.

“But I know we want a good deal, a fair deal,” said the 58-year-old from Redford, noting he’d like to see a pay rise, overhaul of cost-of-living allowances and a tiered pay system. In the next contract.

Before the strike, McCartha began to watch his spending.

Now, with $500 a week in strike pay, he’s still “being real cautious and waiting, not going on trips or doing anything extra,” he said.

Being on strike, “It’s a little different for me than being on the line,” he said. “But hey, I’m willing to grind it out as long as we have to.”

Auto sales are over this week

The Detroit Three are reporting their third-quarter sales this week, but experts don’t expect the strike to affect them yet.

Automotive information website Edmunds.com Inc. ’s analysts forecast sales of 3.9 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2023, representing a 16% year-over-year increase.

Before the strike, Edmonds’ data showed that three vehicles in Detroit were sitting at dealerships longer than the industry average.

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In a statement last week, Edmonds Insights director Evan Drury said: “Current availability for American-branded trucks and SUVs is strong, but shoppers considering a new vehicle purchase from any of the Detroit brands may want to speed up their search process. The unpredictable impact of the strike on supply.”

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Twitter: @bykaleahall

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