STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (FOX 2) - Another 6,800 union autoworkers went on strike Monday at Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly plant, the UAW's Facebook page said.
In a video posted on social media, President Shawn Fain could be seen greeting members and shaking their hands as they exited the building. Members were handing out picket signs as they exited, the video showed.
The latest escalation of the UAW's "Stand Up" strike tracks in line with the union's new strategy as they call on facilities to walk off the line amid negotiations.
Last week, the union president spoke to members and blasted the three automakers for not meeting their demands for higher wages and better retirement benefits. The most recent strike hit Ford's truck plant in Kentucky, a vital facility for the company and one of the largest in the country where 8,700 UAW members work.
With the additional thousands of workers from Stellantis walking off, more than 40,000 members are now picketing the Big 3.
"Unfortunately, we're not where we need to be," Fain said. "Our members deserve better, and these companies owe our members better."
Sterling Height Assembly is a major profit center for Stellantis. In rationalizing the surprise picket, the UAW's website said Stellantis "lags behind both Ford and General Motors in addressing the demands of their UAW workforce."
"Currently, Stellantis has the worst proposal on the table regarding wage progression, temporary worker pay and conversion to full-time, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and more."
According to the most recent offer from Stellantis, they've proposed a 23% wage increase over four years, the elimination of wage tiers at its Mopar facilities, a $20 per hour starting wage, and the traditional restoration of cost-of-living-adjustments. It offered to add Juneteenth as a holiday, the right to strike over plant closures, and an increase in retirement benefits.
"These actions not only decrease our market share, but also impact our profitability and therefore, our ability to compete, invest and preserve the record profit sharing payments our employees have enjoyed over the past two years," Jodi Tinson, a Stellantis Spokesperson, said in a statement.
What does Sterling Heights Assembly make?
Sterling Heights Assembly builds Stellantis' Ram Pickup truck and is represented by UAW Local 1700, 889, and 412, according to the automaker's website.
First open in 1953, it was originally a jet engine plant before being covered to making automobiles.
It received a $1.48 billion investment in 2016 back when Fiat-Chrysler ran the plant. The retooling of the facility was intended to build the next generation of the company's pickup truck.
Strike fatigue and building layoffs
Beyond the immediate loss of productivity from the Detroit Big 3, the ripple effects from the strike are causing havoc for non-union employees, tertiary industries, while leading to some stirring frustrations from members.
On Friday, Ford announced it would temporarily lay off 360 more employees at plants around the Midwest.
Analysts have warned some production lines were reaching a point of no return and some car and truck models could disappear forever without a resolution soon. Meanwhile, smaller suppliers are also reaching their own threshold for not continuing to operate without larger assembly plants going back online.
FOX 2 also spoke with workers last week about morale being low. Strike pay is $500 a week, well below the normal pay for working union members. With the strike now in week 5, the loss of wages is starting to be felt, workers said.
$9.3 billion in losses
The Anderson Economic Group's latest estimate for economic losses due to the strike is now up to $9.3 billion after five weeks of picketing.
The breakdown of the losses is as follows:
- Wages of OEM Workers - $488 million
- OEM Losses - $4.18 billion
- Supplier Wages and Earnings - $2.78 billion
- Dealers, Customers, Other Industry Losses - $1.86 billion
"The cost of this strike is now double that of the 2019 UAW strike against General Motors, with significant layoffs among supplier firms. Lost wages of striking workers and those laid off because of the strike are nearing a half billion dollars."