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The "Big Three" automakers - General Motors, Ford and Stellantis - were hit September 15, 2023, by a limited strike after a failed push to produce an agreement with the United Auto Workers union. Image Credit: AFP

Michigan: The United Auto Workers said more of its members will go on strike at General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis NV facilities starting at noon Friday unless substantial headway is made toward new labor contracts.

“Either the Big Three get down to business and work with us to make progress in negotiations, or more locals will be called on to stand up and go out on strike,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video released late Monday.

The deadline raises 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, which is costing the companies output of about 3,200 vehicles a day, according to S&P Global Mobility.

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A union representative said earlier that no new offers had come from GM, Ford or Stellantis since the union made its latest proposals on September 14, right before its strike began.

A bargaining update that Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Chrysler models, issued September 16 was described in some media reports as a new offer. But the latest proposal on the table was made by the UAW, according to a person familiar with the contract talks, who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions.

Stellantis said Monday in an emailed statement that it had resumed negotiations and had “constructive” discussions with union representatives. The company said it was offering almost 21 per cent pay raises and was committed to finding a solution for its idled Jeep plant in Belvidere, Illinois.

Over the weekend, the company’s top negotiator said the Belvidere plant proposal was no longer on the table after the UAW rejected its last offer before the strike deadline.

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On Sunday, Fain rejected the 21 per cent pay increase offer from Stellantis as a “no-go.”

Citing unnamed sources, CNBC reported that Stellantis’s proposal could lead to the closure of 18 facilities, including parts and distribution centers. The automaker’s North American headquarters and technology center in Detroit also could be affected, CNBC said.

The UAW strikes began September 15, minutes after contracts with the carmakers expired. Almost 13,000 workers walked off jobs at a Ford plant in Michigan making Ranger pickups and Bronco SUVs, a GM factory in Missouri that assembles Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, and a Stellantis plant in Ohio that builds Jeep Wrangler SUVs and Jeep Gladiator trucks.

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GM and Ford have announced layoffs of non-striking workers, citing what they’ve described as spillover effects of walkouts from the three factories. The UAW will pay those workers the equivalent of $500 a week in strike pay, even though they’re not on strike, the person said. The union has about $825 million in its strike fund.

The UAW has declined to detail its latest offer, but the companies have said the union lowered its demand for a pay raise to 36 per cent from 40 per cent. GM and Ford have each countered with offers for 20 per cent raises, which the union rejected. The latest offer from Stellantis is for a 19.5 per cent raise, which increases to 21 per cent when compounded over the duration of the deal, the person said.

The union conducted negotiations with Ford on September 16, characterizing them as “reasonably productive.” It had talks with GM on Sunday and confirmed talks with Stellantis on Monday, but didn’t say how those discussions went.