UAW holds rally at Stellantis Trenton Engine Plant as contract deadline approaches
The United Auto Workers held a rally at the Stellantis Trenton Engine Plant yesterday, as the union inches closer to the end of its contract with the Detroit Three automakers on September 14.
Workers at the Trenton plant saw Stellantis close one of the engine production lines and cut hundreds of fellow union members' jobs last year.
Rich Boyer is the UAW Vice President in charge of Stellantis union workers. During remarks inside the Local 889 union hall, he vowed not to leave the remaining workers at the plant behind.
Boyer told assembled workers they make sacrifices every day, and deserve better pay.
The union wants a 20% wage immediate wage hike from Stellantis, GM, and Ford — and 5% increases each of the following three years of a new contract.
"The men and the women in the UAW — and I want all of America to hear this — their feet are killing them, their backs are killing them, their hands are killing them. They deserve a life!" he roared at the crowd inside the hall, after thrusting the microphone aside. "This is a generational fight. If we don't fix this now, we ain't gonna have halls like this any more."
Michigan Democratic Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib also attended the rally. Dingell said the union needs a fair contract in place as the industry pivots towards producing more electric vehicles — and fewer vehicles with the internal combustion engines produced at the Trenton plant.
The union also wants an end to the three-tier wage system. That's a bitterly-resented concession that endured long after then Fiat-Chrysler and General Motors went through bankruptcy in 2009.
Angelique Beckley drives a forklift at the plant. She's a top-tier wage earner, but agreed the tier system needs to go. She said tier 2 and 3 workers get worse shifts and have less control over working conditions, in addition to the lower wages.
"All those years ago, those are things we gave up to help the company stay afloat, and all these years later, you [car companies] made all this money," she said. "It's really time to give back, it is! It's only fair."
With less than a week left in talks before the current contract expires, GM and Ford have made counter-offers, while offering significantly less than what the UAW wants.
Ford has offered to eliminate wage tiers, but proposes keeping its significant temporary workforce. The union wants automakers to offer temp workers permanent positions.
GM has offered to speed up the process of getting to the top wage tier.
Stellantis is reportedly expected to make a counter-offer on Friday. The company has said it won't demand concessions — but it also needs to control costs going forward.