The UAW added another Detroit facility to its strike: Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) that builds the Ram 1500, among other vehicles. More than 6,800 workers are now striking one of Stellantis' most important and profitable plants, bringing the total number of striking UAW auto workers up over 40,000.
According to a UAW press release following the SHAP strike announcement, Stellantis "lags behind both Ford and General Motors in addressing the demands of their UAW workforce." The UAW claims that Stellantis has the worst proposal for wage progression, cost-of-living adjustments, and temporary worker pay despite being the most profitable of the Big Three Detroit automakers.
This isn't the first surprise strike by UAW. On October 11, UAW workers from Ford's Kentucky truck assembly plant joined the picket lines, which saw 8,700 workers suddenly walk out at 6:30 AM. While Stellantis has deeper truck supply than Ford or GM, with a 115-day stock of Ram 1500s as of September 7 according to Cox Automotive, this strike is still a huge blow to one of the company's largest factories in the country. Sterling Heights was tapped to crank out more than 300,000 full-size pickups this year, per The Detroit News.
Perhaps this shouldn't have come as much of a surprise to Stellantis, though. Just a few days ago, the UAW released a statement updating its negotiation efforts with all three Detroit automakers. In that statement, it called out Stellantis specifically for failing to meet the UAW on certain issues that the other two automakers did. Stellantis was also confronted for not offering any payments for current retirees, as Ford and GM have in their proposals.
"We’ve tried to do things the right way. We’ve taken our time, we’ve been patient with these companies. It’s time to amp up the pressure and SHAP just seemed like the the proper target at this time," UAW President Shawn Fain said in Sterling Heights on Monday, according to CNBC.
The UAW strike is nearing six weeks, and continues to put pressure on all three automakers. Major factories, such as SHAP—which the UAW called a "money-maker" for Stellantis—shutting down for that long can burn through a manufacturer's reserve supplies, especially for high-volume vehicles like the Ram 1500. The UAW is now fully executing that more aggressive approach Fain teased earlier in October, whereby the union will escalate its work stoppages without warning and "at any time," rather than on Fridays.
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