In a major escalation of its six-week strike at the three large U.S. automakers, the United Automobile Workers union on Monday told 6,800 workers at a large Ram pickup truck plant in Michigan to walk off the job.
Union workers at the plant, which is owned by Stellantis, the parent of Ram, Chrysler and Jeep, in Sterling Heights, Mich., joined the strike on Monday morning. Shutting down production at the plant, the largest Stellantis factory in the United States, suggests there are still big gaps between the automakers and the U.A.W., which is seeking raises of 40 percent over four years, better retirement benefits and other changes.
“Stellantis has the worst proposal on the table regarding wage progression, temporary worker pay and conversion to full-time, cost-of-living adjustments, and more,” the U.A.W. said in a statement.
The walkout at the Ram plant is the first escalation in the strikes since the U.A.W. called 8,700 workers to leave their jobs at Ford Motor’s largest plant, in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 11. That plant produces the Super Duty version of the company’s popular F-150 truck and the Ford Expedition, a full-size sport-utility vehicle.
Ram is one of the most important of Stellantis’s many auto brands, because of the popularity and higher prices that pickup trucks command in the United States. The plant, about 25 miles north of Detroit, makes Ram 1500 pickup trucks, the brand’s top-selling vehicle. In the first six months of this year, Stellantis reported about $12 billion in profit, more than General Motors and Ford combined.
Stellantis is a relatively new company and was formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot, the French automaker, in January 2021. The combined company is based in Amsterdam and has its U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., near Detroit.
Altogether about 40,000 workers at Ford, G.M. and Stellantis are on strike across the country. The union is on strike at Ford plants in Michigan, Kentucky and Chicago; a plant in Ohio and spare-parts warehouses owned by Stellantis; and two plants in Michigan and Missouri and warehouses owned by G.M.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.