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Confused automakers prepare for UAW strike at errant plants

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as united Auto workers keep the Big Three automakers guessing about plans for a union strike, as car makers unsuccessfully try to cushion the effects of the unprecedented labor action. According to rank-and-file workers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis halted production and pulled parts from plants across the country, causing financial damage to themselves that could have been avoided had they met workers’ demands.

In the weeks before the strike, a game of cat-and-mouse began between the UAW and the companies, a version of guerrilla warfare between the parties. Through targeted walk-offs, the union’s goal was to disrupt the companies’ operations with as few workers as possible, allowing the union’s strike funds to last longer into the conflict – essentially forcing the companies to strike for the duration of the strike. Workers were forced to pay even during. Meanwhile, companies tried to accurately predict which plants would be affected and reorganize production and distribution to minimize losses. The Big Three miscalculated.

A spokesman for Stellantis, which is the parent company of Chrysler, said it did not close any plants in anticipation of the strike and could not talk about component transfers, but that he had “a job in one of our paint shops.” “Knowed about the equipment problem that led to the strike.” Some downtime.” A GM spokesperson also said the company “has not taken any steps to close any of our plants in advance,” while Ford did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

“These companies are under attack against themselves.”

Brandon Mansilla, director of the UAW’s Region 9A, which covers New England and the Northeast, told The Intercept that auto makers are creating more problems for themselves than they would have faced if they had negotiated a contract with the union ahead of time. Its 150,000 workers were laid off last week. “Instead of bargaining in good faith and understanding our demands and meeting us at the table, these companies are attacking themselves,” Mansilla said.

The UAW did not announce the plants it intended to shut down until just before the strike deadline last Thursday night. The targeted facilities — GM’s Wentzville Assembly Center outside St. Louis, Stellantis’s Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, and two divisions of Ford’s Michigan plant — were not among those that employees said the companies were preparing for. So far, about 13,000 workers are on strike, impacting production of classic American cars like the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco, with more on the way if the union’s contract negotiations don’t end by the end of the week.

In preparation for the strike, UAW members strike at auto plants from Georgia to Tennessee to Ohio Facebook And Twitter Sharing an account of the state of disarray in stores across the country due to partial plant closures and misinformation from plant managers.

Scott Hollidison, a worker at a Ford assembly plant in Chicago, told The Intercept that it seemed company owners had no idea where the planned strikes were going to take place. “Our local plant management started emptying vehicles from paint ovens and dip tanks. If they leave the cars there, they’re doomed, so they start emptying them and preparing to turn off the oven. So that’s what was happening here because they thought our plant was going to be the one that was taken out,” Houldison said. “The president of the plant was telling me the one they were going to attack was ours.”

Other automakers have shifted parts from plants elsewhere in the country, including Tennessee, Houldison said. “At GM in Spring Hill, they loaded engines to send to Wentzville because they thought Spring Hill would be the target. It turned out that Wentzville was where they had the attack, so there was a lot of misinformation there that really got the company in trouble,” he added.

In other words, the company moved product from a plant that was not attractive to one that was attractive. (A GM spokesman said that “no work has been disrupted at Spring Hill as a result of the Wentzville strike.”)

Stellantis acknowledged that it had been alerted and made preparations in plants that were ultimately not affected by the strike actions.

A spokesperson said, “Strike preparation and contingency planning is part of our normal process in a contract negotiation year – as a responsible business we have to do it.” told At this time. “They made it clear that a strike was possible and we did everything we needed to do to protect the business.”

Earlier this month, industry-aligned publication Auto News published a Article Describing the plants that UAW members would potentially target, including Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant in Michigan, its Lima Engine Plant in Ohio and the Cleveland Engine No. 1 facility. The article claimed that Stellantis’ engine and transmission plants in Indiana and Michigan, as well as three GM plants in the three states, were potential targets of attack. that was the list regurgitated on CNBC, where a reporter said he got the information from “a source familiar with the UAW’s plans.” Not one of those plants ultimately closed.

UAW’s “Stand Up” The strike tactics are reminiscent of the UAW strikes of the 1930s, when workers would “sit down” on shop floors, occupy factories and use guerrilla tactics to win contracts of the kind that had forced auto companies to win contracts in the U.S. Made it the gold standard for manufacturing jobs. During a 1936 strike in Flint, Michigan, workers employed distraction tactics at a secondary GM plant to divert company safety from their primary goal. The workers spread a rumor that they were going to target a plant, and when their employer acted on that misinformation, they stormed a different plant that had been their target all along. That action gave the union its first recognition in one of the Big Three.

The strategy the UAW is currently pursuing is led by the union’s new militant president, Shawn Fenn. He was elected in March after the UAW changed its election process from a representative system to one member, one vote in the recent leadership election. He has taken a new stance on union leadership: for example, refusing to endorse Joe Biden for president unless he supports the UAW’s efforts to unionize electric vehicle facilities, and Automakers reject a formal handshake with owners before contract negotiations begin.

In the key state of Michigan, where thousands of UAW members work, the union wields a major influence on state politics and, in turn, races nationwide. That means union support will be crucial to Biden’s re-election chances in 2024. Donald Trump, taking advantage of Biden administration’s slow support for UAW strike announced He will talk to auto workers making drawings this month Condemnation From foam.

Despite the Biden administration’s refusal to strongly support workers, other politicians are joining the fray, announcement of His support for the UAW, and the President’s call for a pre-strike Recognition So that the employees do not go on strike due to confusion. “Have you lost your mind?” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Allegedly yelled Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s closest advisers.

The UAW’s key demands are a shorter work week, withdrawal of pensions and benefits, and wage increases to bring wages in line with previous levels. Fenn has threatened companies with even more disruption if they fail to meet workers where they stand. “We will continue to hit the company where we are needed, when we are needed. And we’re not going to keep waiting forever until they pull it out,” Fenn Said on Monday. “I have been clear with the Big Three every step of the way. And I’m just going to be very clear again. If we do not make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22, more locals will be called to stand up and join the strike.

Correction: September 19, 2023, 5:31 pm ET
A previous version of this article stated that Houldison worked at a General Motors plant; Actually, he works in the Ford plant.


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