GM, Ford, and Stellantis Laid Off Thousands of Employees Because of the UAW Strikes

The Detroit Three, or the Big Three, as Ford, GM, and Stellantis are called, have laid off nearly 2,700 people combined. The automakers blame the UAW strikes and say nothing can be done about it because the industry is heavily connected. Here's what's going on.
UAW on Strike 19 photos
Photo: UAW on Twitter / Automakers / autoevolution edit
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General Motors confirmed on Wednesday that it had to lay off around 2,000 people working at a Kansas City plant. The auto giant explained that the move was necessary because the UAW strikes caused a ripple effect, and there was no activity left for Americans manufacturing the Malibu and the Caddy XT4.

Moreover, GM, once rescued by the American taxpayer, pointed out it could not provide the affected workers with any other unemployment benefits.

Stellantis, on the other hand, announced layoffs in Toledo, Ohio, affecting just 68 workers for the time being. However, it underlined that more than 300 people could soon face the same fate. They make transmissions in Kokomo, Indiana. The group comprising 16 brands, including Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler, blamed storage troubles for this decision.

But it was Ford who acted first in this respect. Last week, the Blue Oval informed almost 600 of its Michigan Assembly Plant workers that there was no work for them to do. They were in charge of stamping and body construction.

It's worth noting that being laid off doesn't mean you're getting fired. Layoffs happen when the company struggles and has issues keeping workers at their jobs. It's a measure that does not affect a professional's career. That may be one of the reasons why Tesla decided to start another Twitter (X) verified account to hire workers. It could end up snatching some of those affected by the Big Three temporary layoffs.

These decisions might seem retaliatory against UAW but only make life harder for GM, Ford, and Stellantis. The strike started with about 12,700 refusing to work. Now, they added another 2,700 to that number. It could grow to 3,000 if Stellantis goes ahead with layoffs at the Kokomo, Indiana plant.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) started negotiations with the Big Three in late July.

GM's Flint assembly plant
Photo: GM
They asked for a 40% hourly pay increase over four years, a hefty reduction in the number of temporary workers who generally have fewer employment rights, a four-day workweek (with still eight hours of work), the return to traditional pensions, wages keeping up with inflation after the raises started being applied, and the end of compensation tiers. The latter refers to newer employees making less than existing ones and enjoying fewer benefits.

After several rounds of intense discussions, the UAW dropped their request for a raise to 36% but remained keen on working just 32 hours per week. The three auto brands did not budge, so they started striking at three of the most important plants.

The union members are also worried about dealing with possible plant closures because automakers are getting ready to shift from making internal combustion engine-powered vehicles to producing all-electric cars and trucks. Zero-tailpipe emission vehicles don't require the same effort as units sporting an exhaust system because the skateboard architecture enables brands to use around 100 fewer parts.

Currently, the manufacturing facilities of the Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator, the Ford Bronco, the Ford Ranger, and GM's Wentzville, Missouri plant are idle, per NBC.

Wednesday evening, UAW members also began practicing for pickets.

Lastly, the decision to go on strike was put to a vote before the movement began. Almost 97% of the UAW members voted "aye."

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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