The United Auto Workers struck a plant that makes parts for Mercedes-Benz Group AG vehicles, as the union continued to weigh expanding the number of walk-out targets at Detroit’s automakers.
On Wednesday morning, the UAW posted on X that 190 workers at a ZF plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that supplies front axles to Mercedes were now on strike.
The job action followed a union social media post Tuesday evening with a Spartacus movie clip showing “UAW locals waiting to go out on strike” as the title character’s fellow rebels in turn each stand and claim “I am Spartacus.”
The union will have a Facebook Live event on Friday at 10 a.m. local time in Detroit, where it will likely discuss whether additional plants belonging to the legacy Detroit carmakers will face strikes, a person familiar with the discussions said.
President Shawn Fain has said more plants faced walkouts if General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, the maker of Jeep and Chrysler models, didn’t sweeten their offers. The carmakers said bargaining had continued on Tuesday.
The new job action and Friday deadline raise the stakes for talks between three of the biggest automakers in the US and the union representing 146,000 of their workers. Friday will mark one week since the UAW called its first-ever walkout across all three of the legacy Detroit manufacturers.
In Canada, Ford reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday with Unifor, the Canadian autoworkers’ union, for a three-year national labor contract.
“When faced with the prospect of an all-out strike by 5,600 Unifor members at every single one of Ford’s facilities in Canada, the company made a significant offer,” the union said in a statement.
In Washington on Tuesday, the Biden administration continued to monitor the strike negotiations, but said Tuesday that acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House adviser Gene Sperling would not yet be traveling to Detroit to help the two sides. President Joe Biden had said last week that he would send the two officials.
Following reports that Former President Donald Trump plans to visit Detroit to court striking workers on Sept. 27, the day of the second Republican primary debate, Fain issued a statement Tuesday in response.
“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,’ he said in the statement.
Stellantis’ North American Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart told CNBC Tuesday that his company has inventory on hand to offset the strike’s impact. But S&P Global Mobility has estimated that the strike is costing the companies output of about 3,200 vehicles a day.
Rob Smith, executive vice president at Rockville, Maryland-based Fitzgerald Auto Mall, which has more than a dozen dealerships in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania, said his facilities have already experienced some inventory shortages, “especially with Chevy.”
“The bigger concern is parts for when customers need repairs,” he said. “Our service department, which is having a robust year, is being affected.”
Smith said in previous times when output from UAW-staffed factories has been impacted, he has tried to over-order parts he knew would be needed. He is hopeful that the UAW strike will be resolved soon.
“We all had disruptions during Covid,” he said. “We don’t need any more.”
(With assistance from Keith Naughton and Gabrielle Coppola.)
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