UAW escalates strike against lone holdout GM after landing tentative pacts with Stellantis and Ford

Spring Hill General Motors workers picket outside of the plant Sunday in Spring Hill, Tenn., after United Auto Workers Local 1853 announced a strike after 44 days of negotiations with GM. (Nicole Hester/The Tennessean via AP)

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers union has widened its strike against General Motors, the lone holdout among the three Detroit automakers, after reaching a tentative contract agreement with Jeep maker Stellantis.

The escalated walkout began Saturday evening at a Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, GM’s largest in North America, just hours after the Stellantic deal was reached. Its nearly 4,000 workers join about 14,000 already striking at GM factories in Texas, Michigan and Missouri.


The UAW did not immediately explain what prompted the new action after 44 days of targeted strikes. The added pressure on GM is substantial as Spring Hill makes engines for vehicles assembled in a total of nine plants as far afield as Mexico, including Silverado and Sierra pickups. One plant already on strike it supplies with engines, in Arlington Texas, makes full-size SUVs including the Tahoe and Suburban. Vehicles assembled at Spring Hill include the electric Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Acadia and Cadillac crossover SUVs.

“The Spring Hill walkout affects so much of GM’s production that the company is likely to settle quickly or close down most production,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor. The union wants to wrap negotiations with all three automakers so “Ford and Stellantis workers don’t vote down (their) tentative agreements because they want to see what GM workers get.”

The Stellantis deal mirrors one reached last week with Ford, and saves jobs at a factory in Belvidere, Illinois, that Stellantis had planned to close, the UAW said.

GM said it was disappointed with the additional strike at the Spring Hill plant, which has 11 million square feet of building space, “in light of the progress we have made.” It said in a statement that is has bargained in good faith and wants a deal as soon as possible.

In a statement, UAW President Shawn Fain lamented what he called “GM’s unnecessary and irresponsible refusal to come to a fair agreement.”

“Everybody’s really fired up and excited,” Spring Hill assembly line worker Larry Montgomery said by phone on Sunday. He said workers were taken by surprise by the strike call. “We thought it was going to happen earlier.”

UAW Local 1853 President John Rutherford in Spring Hill didn’t immediately return a telephone message.

Fain said in a video appearance Saturday night that 43,000 members at Stelantis would have to vote on the deal — just as Ford workers must. About 14,000 UAW workers had been on strike at two Stellantis assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, and several parts distribution centers across the country. The company makes Jeep and Ram vehicles.

The pact includes 25% in general wage increases over the next 4 1/2 years for top assembly plant workers, with 11% coming once the deal is ratified. Workers also will get cost-of-living pay that would bring the raises to a compounded 33%, with top assembly plant workers making more than $42 per hour. At Stellantis, top-scale workers now make around $31 per hour.

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