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Stellantis Faces New Threat as Workers at Key Stamping Plant Vote to OK Strike

by | May 7, 2024

Months after settling a crippling strike at its North American automotive operations, Stellantis faces the threat of another walkout, workers at a critical stamping plant in suburban Detroit giving union leaders the okay to shut down the facility if no agreement can be reached over health and safety issues. A walkout would cripple key Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram assembly lines.

Warren Stamping Plant

The Warren Stamping Plant turns rolls of sheet steel into fenders, hoods and other vehicle parts.

Workers at the Warren Stamping Plant voted to authorize a strike in the coming weeks by an overwhelming 72% margin on Monday, leaders of the United Auto Workers Union announced.

Tensions have been building at the plant for months, workers complaining about flooding, the lack of protective gear and other issues they have described as a threat to health and safety.

A deadline has yet to be set for reaching terms on a contract covering the plant’s 1,100 UAW workers. But if walkout could be crippling. The facility produces an assortment of stamped metal parts, such as hoods, fenders and floor pans, for a variety of vehicles produced by Stellantis’ Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands. These include high-profit models such as the Jeep Wrangler SUV and Ram 1500 pickup.

No deadline – yet

“While the members of UAW Local 869 from Stellantis’ Warren (Michigan) Stamping Plant have voted to authorize a strike, discussions between the company and UAW are ongoing and employees are still at work,” Stellantis said in a statement. “Stellantis remains committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees and resolving this matter without a work stoppage.”

Ram TRX on Assembly Line

Warren stamped parts are used for the Ram TRX.

But the automaker may be running out of time. Workers at Warren Stamping previously voted to authorize a strike due to the lack of a local contract.

“Not only do we want these health and safety grievances resolved, we want our members to leave the same way they came,” Romaine McKinney III, president of UAW Local 869, which represents the plant, said in a union statement. “We want members to understand they’re not just a number or just a body on the line. They will come to work and feel like they have some ownership in that building.”

Another potential body blow

Along with Detroit-based rivals Ford and General Motors, Stellantis was hit with an unusual “stand-up strike” last autumn that saw the UAW target select assembly and parts plants, as well as storage and distribution depots across the U.S. The union announced a tentative settlement with Stellantis on October 29, 2023 and workers voted to approve the deal in November.

The Euro-American automaker said the strike cost it 3.0 billion euros, or $3.2 billion. It also will drive up labor costs going forward, as it resulted in what the UAW described as “historic” increases in wages and benefits.

The automaker subsequently said it still expects to hit its profit targets for 2024. But that goal could prove tougher to achieve in the event of a walkout in the Detroit suburb of Warren, especially if it drags on for more than a few days, according to industry-watchers.

More UAW News

Production operators at the Toledo Assembly Complex work on a 2024 Jeep Gladiator. Production at the plant would be immediately impacted by a walkout in Warren.

An essential facility, serious complaints

The Warren Stamping Plant produces sheet metal parts, such as fenders, hoods, liftgates and floor pans, for products such as the Dodge Durango, Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Gladiator, Wrangler and Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, as well as the Ram 1500 pickup. In all, the lack of parts caused by a strike could impact a half-dozen assembly operations in the greater Detroit region and halt production of some of the most profitable products in the Stellantis North American portfolio.

Prior to the vote, the UAW said it has been trying for months to resolve health and safety concerns at the Warren plant. The automaker cited a leaky roof that has led to flooding on the shop floor, the lack of gloves and other protective gear, and other issues, including sanitation problems.

The union said it hopes to resolve the contract deadlock before setting a strike deadline, McKinney telling Automotive News the “opportunity to correct all the health and safety issues will definitely be given.”


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