Amid the ongoing historic strike against the Big Three automakers organized by the UAW, General Motors (GM) and Jeep-maker Stellantis have collectively laid off more than 2,000 workers.
GM announced it ceased production at a Chevrolet and Cadillac assembly plant in Fairfax, Kansas on account of a shortage of parts due to the strike. The parts were supposed to be sent from Wentzville, Missouri, but that plant’s workers have gone on strike. About 2,000 workers at the Fairfax plant were laid off in response.
Similarly, Stellantis announced it was laying off roughly 370 employees at three factories due to “storage constraints” related to the strike. The plants, based in Ohio and Indiana, make components for Jeep vehicles constructed in a plant of theirs in Toledo, whose workers are on strike.
GM said its laid off workers will not be eligible for unemployment benefits, as it does not offer them when a strike occurs. “We have said repeatedly that nobody wins in a strike […] What happened to our Fairfax team members is a clear and immediate demonstration of that fact.”
Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman (D), who recently had the Senate abolish its dress code to accommodate his preference for sweatshirts, drove up to one of the strikes to show his support. He made his message to the automaker CEOs clear: “It’s 74 million dollars, you know, collectively earning that, you know, how many yachts can they need, you know, you know, to, to yacht, to water, uh, ski behind it. You know? It’s crazy.”
Senator John Fetterman delivers a powerful message in support of the United Auto Workers.
“My message to the, the CEOs, CEOs is, you know, it's $74 million, you know, collectively earning that, you know, how many yachts can they need, you know, to, to… pic.twitter.com/FwlPdWB39o
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) September 19, 2023
Some 13,000 auto workers ceased making vehicles with forming picket lines at plants in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri. The strike came as four-year contracts between the auto companies and the union expire. The contracts, which affect 146,000 U.S. factory workers, were being re-negotiated ahead of the Sept. 14 deadline, but the union and automakers failed to come to an agreement by Thursday night.
GM said it hoped to reach an agreement with the union as soon as possible. “I’m extremely frustrated and disappointed. We don’t need to be in a strike right now,” said GM chief executive Mary Barra to CNBC. Meanwhile, UAW’s recently elected president Shawn Fain has proven to be more aggressive than past leaders of the union, as he is aggressively pursuing double-digit increases and controversial demands such as the right to strike over plant closures caused by outsourcing.