GM Arlington assembly plant workers aren’t striking as contract expires. Here’s why.
Negotiations with the United Auto Workers and Ford, General Motors and Stellantis stretched into the night on Sept. 14 and expired, signaling strikes for workers at three auto plants across the country. More than 5,000 auto workers at the GM assembly plant in Arlington are returning to work under an expired contract, waiting for the signal to start picket lines.
The union and auto manufacturers had until midnight Sept. 14 to negotiate a new contract, but still stand far apart on items such as pay increases. UAW is asking for 40% wage increases — GM came back with 20% increases over four years.
Meanwhile, UAW president Shawn Fain called on workers at three plants across the country to go on strike, affecting a total of about 13,000 people:
- UAW members at the General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri.
- UAW members at Stellantis in the Toledo, Ohio, assembly complex.
- UAW members at Ford’s final assembly and paint team in the Michigan plant.
This is the first time in the union’s 88-year history that it is striking against all three automakers, according to The Associated Press.
It’s possible that workers in Arlington could be targeted for a strike. The local union chapter, UAW Local 276, has strike assignments and positions in case of being called by Fain to strike.
The assembly plant in Arlington broke a 70-month production record in April. In July, GM announced a $500 million investment in the Arlington assembly plant to produce future SUVs.
In a Facebook Live on Sept. 14, Fain said the strategy of picking selected plants instead of all of them at the same time will keep the companies guessing, and alludes to the possibility of more plants being selected over time.
“It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining,” he said. “And if we need to go all out, we will.”
UAW cites record profits from GM as justification for the raises. GM executives argue the demands would take too much money and hamper its ability to be competitive. CEO and chair Mary Barra spoke about finding a middleground to remain competitive as a company in a video posted on Sept. 14.“Make no mistake, if we don’t continue to invest, we will lose ground. And it will happen fast,” Barra said. “Our competition across the country and around the world, most of whom are nonunion, will waste no time seizing the opportunity we’ve handed them.”
The last GM auto worker strike was in 2019 and lasted 40 days.
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