1 of 3 | A United Auto Worker strikes outside an entrance to the Stellantis factory where the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator are built in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 21 (UPI) -- GM has laid off about 2,000 Kansas assembly plant workers due to a shortage of parts caused by the United Auto Workers strike and Stellantis has laid off about 370 workers at three parts factories supplying its Toledo Jeep plant.
UAW President Shawn Fain, meanwhile, has set a deadline for Friday to expand the strike to more plants unless substantial progress is made toward a new contract.
"I have been clear with the Big 3 every step of the way. And I'm going to be crystal clear again right now," Fain said. "If we don't make serious progress by noon on Friday, Sept. 22, more locals will be called on to Stand Up and join the strike."
In a statement announcing the layoffs Wednesday, GM said, "It is unfortunate that the UAW leadership's decision to call a strike at Wentzville Assembly has already had a negative ripple effect, with GM's Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas being idled today and most of its represented team members leaving the plant as there is no work available. This is due to a shortage of critical stampings supplied by Wentzville's stamping operations to Fairfax."
GM said the idled workers are not eligible for supplemental unemployment benefits they would have gotten under the UAW contract, since that contract was not extended when the strike was called.
Stellantis said in a statement that due to the UAW strike a "potential of more than 350" workers will be temporarily laid off.
"Stellantis confirms that it will immediately temporarily lay off 68 employees at the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, due to storage constraints. All other production at this facility continues. In addition, we anticipate similar actions at Kokomo Transmission and Kokomo Casting in Kokomo, Ind., affecting an estimated 300 employees at these two facilities."
Almost 13,000 UAW workers struck GM, Ford and Stellantis plants at midnight Sept. 14, pressing for a record new labor contract amid record profits at the automakers.
The union is seeking a roughly 40% pay hike over the new four-year contract, restoration of an automatic cost-of-living adjustment pegged to inflation, an end to the two-tier pay system in which new hires are paid far less with fewer benefits than other UAW workers, restoration of traditional pensions and a shorter work week with no cut in pay.
The UAW's position is that the union gave significant concessions when the automakers were financially strapped in 2008-09, and now that they have many years of record profits, it's time to share the prosperity with the workers.
The auto companies argue that despite record profits and CEO annual salaries of $21 million to $29 million at the three Detroit automakers, they cannot afford to meet the UAW's demands.