DETROIT — Jeep maker Stellantis NV said Saturday it offered the United Auto Workers a nearly 21% compounded wage increase and a solution for its idled Illinois plant ahead of the union declaring a strike. It claims UAW officials have misrepresented pieces of its offer.
The company presented its fourth economic offer to the union around 8 p.m. Thursday at Solidarity House ahead of its current contract expiring a minute before midnight that day, Mark Stewart, Stellantis' chief operating officer, said during a virtual roundtable with reporters. Following the deadline, the union declared a strike at Stellantis' Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio, as well as Ford Motor Co.'s Bronco and Ranger plant in Wayne and General Motors Co.'s midsize truck plant in Wentzville, Missouri. It was the first time the union has declared a strike on all three companies simultaneously.
"(UAW President) Shawn Fain, the UAW said they were going to run very much a transparent negotiation, sharing the details of offers and so forth," Stewart said. "So likewise, we're doing the same."
The UAW didn't have an immediate response to Stellantis' statement on Saturday morning. The union did provide Stellantis a counteroffer on Thursday, UAW spokesman Jonah Furman said; he declined to share specifics.
The counteroffer was presented shortly before the union announced its strike targets at 10 p.m. Thursday.
"We said it's not an acceptable offer," Stewart said. "It's not an affordable offer. We would be putting the company in jeopardy if we were to agree."
Stellantis' Thursday offer, Stewart said, included a solution for Belvidere Assembly Plant, the former Jeep Cherokee plant in north-central Illinois that was idled at the end of February, affecting 1,350 workers. The union was provided the details, but the company isn't sharing them publicly. The solution, however, was contingent on an agreement being reached before the contract expiration, so it will have to be revisited moving forward, Stewart said.
"We were very specific that solution for Belvidere, which included job protection for the folks and some other items that we're not going into the detail with, but it was a very, very good proposal for how to resolve Belvidere," he said. "It was only on the table until contract expiration. So, we were glad to continue to work. We want to have a solution, including that, but we need to all come together and be able to find a reasonable solution that both the company and the union can agree."
Notably, Stellantis responded to the union's declaration that the automaker is seeking the unilateral right to close 18 facilities. And at a rally on Friday, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer suggested the company was seeking to close six Mopar aftermarket parts distribution centers.
Stewart said the company's request is related to modernizing Stellantis' facilities, especially those parts distribution centers (PDCs), while "preserving the same number of jobs."
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