The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has taken a significant step in its ongoing negotiations with major automakers by expanding its strike to a Stellantis plant in Michigan. This particular facility, responsible for producing Ram 1500 full-size pickup trucks, now faces a work stoppage, affecting approximately 6,800 workers at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) in suburban Detroit. The move marks an escalation in the union’s strike, with negotiations extending longer than expected.
In a statement released on Monday morning, the UAW highlighted the key issues at the heart of their discontent with Stellantis, saying, “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.”
The work stoppage at SHAP brings the total number of UAW members on strike with the Detroit automakers to over 40,000. This development represents the first escalation in the union’s strike in nearly two weeks and the first new work stoppage at Stellantis in over a month.
SHAP is a crucial manufacturing plant for Stellantis, and the company’s relative stockpile of Ram pickups makes it better positioned to weather a work stoppage compared to its competitors, such as General Motors and Ford Motor. According to Cox Automotive, as of October 17, the Ram 1500 had a 114 days-supply, surpassing the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 at 100 days-supply and the Ford F-150 at 99 days-supply. The industry average typically hovers around 62 days.
This unannounced strike mirrors the UAW’s recent shift toward a more aggressive approach in its bargaining with automakers, as noted by UAW President Shawn Fain. While the union had been announcing strike locations in advance, this tactic evolved on October 11 with an unexpected walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, which generates approximately $25 billion in annual revenue. This marked a significant escalation in the ongoing negotiations and underlined the UAW’s determination to secure favorable terms for its members.
In the wake of these developments, Fain has emphasized that there is more yet to be achieved from the automakers. However, as of the latest news, Stellantis has not immediately commented on the expansion of the strike. The ongoing labor disputes are closely watched by both industry stakeholders and the public as they unfold in a challenging environment for labor relations and supply chain disruptions.