Negotiations between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Stellantis have turned increasingly contentious. Over the weekend, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer, who is leading the union’s negotiations with Stellantis, revealed that the automaker had raised the prospect of moving the current Ram 1500 (DT) production from Metro Detroit to Mexico.
Boyer stated that Stellantis’ proposal included producing the new all-electric Ram 1500 REV pickup truck at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP), which currently manufactures a majority of the Ram 1500 light-duty pickups.
This potential move has sparked concerns from both local and federal officials, given the Ram 1500’s status as the third best-selling vehicle in the United States and a cornerstone of Stellantis’ North American production. However, uncertainties linger over the market’s reception of the all-electric model, particularly in light of public sentiment toward electrification and Stellantis’ ambitious goal of making 50% of its U.S. vehicles electric by 2030. These uncertainties are unsettling UAW members who fear for their job security.
Addressing hundreds of union members at a “Sunday Solidarity” rally, Boyer expressed his frustration with these potential plans, pointing the finger at Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares and claiming a lack of consideration for U.S. auto workers.
Boyer’s candid words were, “He don’t give a shit about the American auto worker.” He said, “They want to take the Ram 1500 ICE and send it to Mexico.”
Stellantis, whose manufacturing operations already include the Ram 1500 Classic and Heavy Duty lineup in Saltillo, Mexico, chose not to confirm or deny this potential move in an official statement.
The statement read, “Product allocation for our U.S. plants will depend on the outcome of these negotiations as well as a plant’s ability to meet specific performance metrics, including improving quality, reducing absenteeism, and addressing overall cost. As these decisions are fluid and part of the discussions at the bargaining table, we will not comment further.”
UAW President Shawn Fain strongly opposes the idea of relocating truck production and considers it a significant misstep on Stellantis’ part. Fain emphasized the importance of those jobs and the vehicle, saying, “Those are our jobs, and that’s our vehicle. We expect to keep that work.”
Having assumed leadership of the union earlier in the year, the new UAW President has adopted a more confrontational approach in negotiations. He expressed his hope to reach preliminary agreements with the companies before the current contract expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on September 14th.
Fain asserted, “When Labor Day hits, we better have agreements. If we don’t, there’s going to be problems.” While he refrained from predicting the likelihood of a strike against one or all three of the automakers, he conveyed their readiness to consider various actions.
Tensions between the UAW and Stellantis escalated when Fain publicly disposed of the Stellantis proposal in a trash can during a live Facebook update. Fain accused the company of showing disrespect to its workforce, characterizing the proposals as equivalent to a “slap in the face” and alleging that management had chosen to “spit in our faces.”
In recent days, Fain and senior UAW officials have raised the possibility of a strike vote among their members. According to UAW sources, momentum for such a vote appears to be growing within the membership.