Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three automakers continued Sunday — day 17 of an unprecedented strike by the union against Ford Motor Co., Stellantis NV and General Motors Co.
The strike started Sept. 15 with the UAW unleashing a targeted walkout strategy starting with plant work stoppages at Ford's Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Complex and GM's Wentzville Assembly in Missouri.
The strike has been expanded twice to include all Stellantis and GM parts distribution centers and on Friday added two SUV plants: GM's Lansing Delta Township plant and Ford's Chicago Assembly — bringing the number of autoworkers on strike to 25,300 out of 146,000 UAW members at the companies.
Stellantis' facilities were spared the latest expansion since the Jeep and Ram maker made progress in talks with the union on areas including cost-of-living adjustments that had been suspended in 2009, the right not to cross a picket line, the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures, and an outsourcing moratorium.
"I actually took it as a big sigh of relief that Stellantis made significant movement," said Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School.
"To me, that was great news. Primarily because I was most concerned about Stellantis going in. It seems to me that they are going along closer to the pattern and they may actually stick with pattern bargaining."
Ford had previously been spared in the union's first move to expand the strike targets. The Dearborn automaker had made progress the week leading up to Sept. 22 in talks with the Dearborn automaker on cost of living adjustments, wage disparities at feeder plants and job security protections.
Despite some progress on certain items, Ford slammed the union on Friday after the strike expansion that added the Chicago Assembly plant where the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are built. Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the union 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 claiming it has "no real intent to get to an agreement."
The automakers and union have remained far apart on the union's demands to provide pensions for all employees, retiree health care, a restored jobs bank and wage increases of 36% over four years. The companies have offered wage hikes of about 20% while expressing concern that granting all of the union priorities would further widen the gap between their employee costs and those of non-union competitors such as Tesla Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
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