Ford and General Motors announce hundreds of temporary layoffs for non-striking workers: NPR

UAW members strike at a Ford Michigan assembly plant on September 16 in Wayne, Michigan.

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UAW members strike at a Ford Michigan assembly plant on September 16 in Wayne, Michigan.

Bill Poliano/Getty Images

The ripple effects of the United Auto Workers strike have begun.

Ford sent home about 600 workers at its Michigan plant on Friday due to production issues related to the strike. For similar reasons, General Motors also warned that 2,000 workers at its Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas are expected to be out of work by early next week.

When a factory is down due to supply chain problems, companies usually pay partial wages to their non-striking workers. But in this case, Ford and GM said there would be no such compensation.

UAW President Sean Fine said the union would make sure affected workers continue to receive income and called the temporary layoffs a strategic attack to speed up negotiations.

“Let’s be clear: If the Big Three decide to lay off people who did not participate in the strike, they are trying to pressure our members to accept less,” Fine said Saturday in a statement. statement.

The possibility of temporary layoffs comes less than a day after the UAW launched its unprecedented strike against the Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, Jeep and Ram. On Friday, about 13,000 workers at three Midwestern plants left their jobs after the auto companies failed to reach an agreement with the union on wages, pensions and other benefits.

The union and the three automakers returned to the negotiating table on Saturday.

“We had reasonably productive conversations with Ford today,” the UAW said in a written statement provided to NPR.

The strike currently includes less than 9% of UAW members at the three companies. But more workers may go on strike at any moment, depending on how negotiations go.

The auto companies say the layoffs are a direct result of the UAW strike

About 600 workers in the bodybuilding division of Ford’s Michigan auto assembly plant and the southern Integrated Stamping subassembly area were asked not to report to work Friday because the components they produce require electronic coating. According to Ford, the e-coating is a protective measure completed by the facility’s paint department, which went on strike.

“Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy will have knock-on effects on facilities that are not directly targeted by downtime,” Ford said in a statement.

GM similarly said the strike at Wentzville Assembly in Missouri had already had a “negative ripple effect” on the rest of its Fairfax, Kansas, assembly plant.

“This is due to a shortage of critical sealing operations provided by Wentzville’s sealing operations to Fairfax,” GM said in a statement. “We operate under an expired agreement at Fairfax. Unfortunately, there are no provisions that would allow sub-payment by the company in these circumstances.”

But UAW President Fine argued that auto companies are able to avoid such temporary layoffs.

“With their record profits, they don’t have to lay off a single employee. In fact, they could double the pay of every worker in the auto industry, not raise car prices, and still make billions of dollars,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

NPR’s Camilla Domonowski contributed reporting.

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