Between the two automakers, General Motors and Ford laid off nearly 500 additional workers, blaming the ongoing UAW strike.
The decision came as the United Auto Workers announced it would expand walkouts among the automakers’ plants last Friday. GM said this week it is laying off 164 workers, while Ford noted it would temporarily lay off 330 people.
GM’s Parma, Ohio and Marion, Indiana stamping plants normally send parts to assembly facilities that are now stopped. Specifically, the Wentzville plant in Missouri and Lansing Delta Assembly plant in Michigan are on strike as of early October. Neither the Parma nor Marion plant will shut down completely, as both still send parts to GM plants that are still operating.
Per the company’s statement: “We have said repeatedly that nobody wins in a strike, and this is another demonstration of that fact,” in reasoning that workers striking their plants are having a domino effect on other, non-striking facilities. “We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”
On September 20, less than a week after the UAW strike began, GM laid off nearly 2,000 workers at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, as well as more at its Toledo Propulsion Systems plant in Ohio and Lockport Operations in New York.
Ford lays off workers in Illinois, Ohio
The story is similar over at Ford, where the Blue Oval laid off some 330 workers at its Chicago Stamping Plant and Lima Engine Plant.
“Our production system is highly interconnected,” the company said in its statement, “which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy has knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage.” Ford, for its part, laid off about 600 hourly workers at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan early on in the strike.
Currently, UAW workers are also striking the Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator.
As the strike grinds on into another week, the UAW is paying $500 per week in benefits to the 25,000-plus workers who are now on picket lines against GM, Ford and Stellantis. After previous layoffs of about 350 members at its Toledo Machining Plant in Ohio and Kokomo transmission and casting plants in Indiana, Stellantis did not announce any further layoffs so far this week.
“Let’s be clear: if the Big Three decide to lay people off who aren’t on strike, that’s them trying to put the squeeze on our members to settle for less,” the union said in its statement responding to recent events. “Their plan won’t work. The UAW will make sure any worker laid off in the Big Three’s latest attack will not go without an income.” To that end, the 3,300 workers actively laid off will also get $500 a week in benefits, since those employees will largely be ineligible for unemployment benefits and will not receive supplemental payments from the automakers.
At the moment, about 17% of the UAW’s 146,000-strong member base are on the picket line. Compensating striking and laid off workers will reportedly cost the union about $14.3 million per week. Part of the union’s targeted strike strategy also, in effect, stretches its $825 million strike fund farther than a mass walkout otherwise would have.
Nonetheless, the $500 per week benefit is far less than those employees are normally paid. According to Anderson Economics Group (as reported by CNN Business), striking workers have lost about $325 million in wages since the strike began, before factoring in the UAW benefits. Factoring that number into the equation, employees have still lost more than $300 million in earning potential, according to CNN’s analysis.
During its first two weeks, the automakers, their suppliers, dealerships and customer losses have reportedly ballooned to just under $4 billion. With the UAW and automakers still far apart on their negotiations — at least judging from their rhetoric — the strike may drag on for weeks if not months, costing billions in lost economic activity for all parties involved.