The United Auto Workers union has charged unfair labor practices against General Motors and Stellantis.
It comes just two weeks before the expiration of labor contracts with Detroit automakers.
UAW President Shawn Fain said the union filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board in a livestream update to union members.
The move marks a departure from the traditionally secretive approach to labor negotiations.
Fain criticized the automakers, accusing them of employing delaying tactics during negotiations.
Both GM and Stellantis expressed surprise at the allegations and vehemently denied them.
Complaints are “frivolous and distracting”
Stellantis labeled the complaint as “frivolous and distracting”, while GM viewed it as an insult to their bargaining committees.
Fain leads the negotiations for new four-year labor agreements covering approximately 146,000 hourly workers at Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
The current agreements are set to expire on September 14.
The union has indicated its willingness to strike if a deal is not reached.
Ford is the only automaker formally responding to the union’s economic demands.
The UAW’s demands include stricter limits on temporary workers and the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments.
It also seeks to eliminate a “grow-in” period when less experienced workers receive lower wages.
Fain criticized Ford’s wage proposals, saying they fall far short of the union’s requirements, and questioned the company’s valuation of its workers.
He said: “Ford’s wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth,”
Ford CEO Jim Farley defended the company’s proposal as generous, competitive, and beneficial for the company and its employees.
The UAW has presented an ambitious list of demands, including a 32-hour workweek and a 46 percent pay increase over the contract’s duration.
While Ford has publicly disclosed its offer, GM and Stellantis have not revealed their proposals.
Automakers looking for greater flexibility
As automakers invest heavily in electrifying their lineups, they seek greater flexibility in workforce deployment.
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It’s because they transition from gas-powered to battery-powered vehicle production.
Cost control and competitiveness with non-unionized foreign automakers and Tesla are also priorities.
The potential for a strike in mid-September is significant, given the US labor movement’s growing influence amid high inflation and labor shortages.
The UAW could call for a walkout at all three automakers or focus on one, as it did with GM in 2019.
According to Anderson Economic Group, a strike involving all 146,000 auto-factory workers could cost the industry over $5 billion.