UAW strikes Ford, GM vehicle assembly plants
As of noon on September 29, the UAW added vehicle assembly plants at Ford and GM to its strike for a new four-year contract. The UAW specifically added Ford's Chicago Assembly plant and GM's Lansing Delta Township assembly plant - both of which build three-row sport-utility vehicles. (A stamping plant also at the Lansing complex, however, will continue to operate.)
The action on September 29 brings the total number of employees on strike to 25,000 people. During an announcement of the additional facilities, UAW Shawn Fain said that Stellantis was not struck as a result of a last-minute offer which the UAW felt made sufficient enough progress on several issues: cost of living adjustments, the right to strike over plant closures during the contract, and a moratorium on outsourcing manufacturing.
Since September 15, the UAW has been on strike at three vehicle assembly plants at each of the automakers; on September 22, the UAW added parts and distribution centers at GM and Stellantis.
The UAW aims to achieve 100% of its demands and is willing to drag out the situation, and the plants added on Sept. 29 follow that strategy. Holding off striking at full-size pick-up, engine and components facilities ensures they still have leverage beyond the actions to date.
With the September 22 strike additions, the UAW had spared Ford. In sparing Stellantis this week, but striking Ford once again, the union continues uncertainty and provides action to follow its promises of striking if progress hasn't been made. It also illustrates that the level of progress to avoid a strike is variable; being spared one week doesn't mean the automaker will be spared the next week. It also leaves GM as the only automaker who has not been spared; every UAW strike announcement in this process has included GM facilities.
The UAW strategy is to create increasing economic disruption until they achieve the accommodations they seek, and it says it is willing to go the distance, implying willingness to expand strikes to include a full strike if they find it necessary. Historically, while union negotiations have become strained and difficult, this year's talks are proving to be the most contentious in decades.
Quotes from our S&P Global Mobility experts:
"The slow-motion UAW strike has extended its reach to encompass Ford's Chicago plant and GM's Lansing Delta Township plant. Notably, it excludes the nearby Lansing Regional Stamping plant that supplies crucial components to GM's profitable full-size truck production facilities, including Fort Wayne, Flint Truck and other facilities. The UAW appears to be strategically biding its time before targeting these key profit centers." -- Joe Langley, associate director, North American production forecasting, S&P Global Mobility
"The UAW has again selected plants which produce vehicles in similar segments, in this case three-row utility vehicles. Though the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator produced in Chicago are a size smaller than the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave produced at GM's Lansing Delta Township, these are the largest non-truck three-row utilities these two automakers offer. For GM, there is additional complexity as the action could ultimately delay start of production of the new-generation Chevrolet Traverse in late 2023. (The start of production of the new-generation Ford Ranger pick-up at the Michigan Assembly Plant has been delayed as the plant is on strike.) The UAW does continue to strike against similar operations at each of the automakers, choosing vehicle plants with output in the same or similar segments with the September 15 and 29 actions and non-manufacturing operations serving a similar purpose with the September 22 action." -- Stephanie Brinley, associate director, AutoIntelligence, S&P Global Mobility
"As the UAW labor dispute enters its 3rd week, the impact on the supply base will intensify. Though the impact thus far has been selective, more suppliers are having to adjust their operations in the form of layoffs, reductions/delays in capital spend and paring inventory to cut financing costs where possible. Suppliers will feel the financial impact of this labor dispute long after it is settled due to lost business." - Michael Robinet, executive director, consulting services, S&P Global Mobility
Current vehicle assembly plants on strike:
- Two new plants with September 29 action
- Michigan Assembly Plant, Wayne, Michigan, Ford: Produces Ranger and Bronco
- Wentzville, Missouri, GM: Produces Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana, stampings for Chevrolet Malibu
- Toledo Assembly Complex, Toledo, Ohio, Stellantis: Produces Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator
- NEW: Chicago Assembly Plant, Chicago, Illinois, Ford: Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator
- NEW: Lansing Delta Township, Lansing, Michigan, GM: Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave
Estimated Secondary Effects:
- No change with September 29 action
- Springfield, Ohio, Navistar: unconfirmed if down, assuming down 9/20 due to reliance on Express/Savana bodies from Wentzville
- Fairfax Assembly, Missouri: Produces Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac XT4
S&P Global Mobility estimates that the Chicago and Lansing plants have a combined output of nearly 2,000 per day. We now estimate daily losses are up to 6,030 units per day, inclusive of all primary and secondary impacts. This assumes a straight time schedule, with no overtime.
This article was published by S&P Global Mobility and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.