US auto union to expand strike to additional Ford, GM assembly plants

Adam Yanelli


HOUSTON (ICIS)–The United Auto Workers (UAW) union will expand its strike to two Ford and GM assembly plants at 16:00 GMT (noon EST) as negotiations with the Big Three automakers continue.

About 7,000 workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and GM’s Lansing Delta Township will begin to strike today, UAW President Shawn Fain said during a live stream.

Fain said the union is taking no additional action against Stellantis as that company has made significant progress in a cost-of-living allowance, the right not to cross a picket line as well as the right to strike over product commitments, plant closures, and outsourcing moratoriums.

“Sadly, despite our willingness to bargain, Ford and GM have refused to make meaningful progress at the table,” Fain said.

“To be clear, negotiations have not broken down,” Fain said. “We are still talking with all three companies. And I am still very hopeful that we can reach a deal that reflects the incredible sacrifices and contributions our members have made over the last decade.”

The UAW strike began on 15 September at three plants: a General Motors (GM) assembly plant at Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis assembly complex at Toledo, Ohio; and a Ford assembly plant at Wayne, Michigan.

The three plants comprise about 12% of North American production for the Big Three.

The union expanded its strike on 22 September to 38 Stellantis and GM parts distribution centres.

At that time, Fain said no additional actions were taken against Ford because that automaker had made concessions to the union and progress during negotiations that week.

The union represents about 146,000 auto workers employed by the Big Three. The three plants reportedly employ about 13,000 workers in total.

Based on estimates from Anderson Economic Group that economic losses over the first week of the strike exceeded $1bn including the $250m in lost wages for striking and laid-off workers, those totals have likely doubled as the second week of striking ended.

The petrochemical industry is closely monitoring the situation because an extended strike would massively disrupt demand for polymers as a typical vehicle contains nearly $3,950 of chemistry including chemical products and chemical processing.

The UAW strike could slash monthly polymers demand from the Big Three by 26,000 tonnes for polypropylene (PP), 11,000 tonnes each for polyurethanes (PU) and nylon, and 5,000 tonnes each for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), based on H1 2023 volumes, according to an analysis of industry data obtained by ICIS.

For the US economy as a whole, a prolonged strike and its ripple effects would be a major blow, according to Swift.

Swift estimates that the impact could be about $2.5bn/day.

Virtually every component of a light vehicle, from the front bumper to the rear taillights, features some chemistry.

The latest data indicate that polymer use is about 437lb (198kg) per vehicle, he said.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood, Joseph Chang and Stefan Baumgarten

Please also visit the ICIS automotive topic page

Thumbnail image shows automobile assembly line production. Photo by Shutterstock


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