The United Auto Workers union called a strike at General Motors’ SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday, adding another major production facility to its growing work stoppage against the “Big Three” automakers.
The union said roughly 5,000 members would not be working at the facility, where GM produces the Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. The Texas walkout brings the total number of auto workers on strike against GM, Ford and Jeep parent company Stellantis to around 45,000.
After nearly six weeks of its gradually escalating strike, the union is now hitting the automakers where it hurts the most: the production of big trucks and SUVs. Those models provide the automakers some of their widest profit margins, and the union boasted Tuesday that it was hitting GM’s “biggest moneymaker.”
“As we’ve said for months: record profits equal record contracts,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement through the union. “It’s time GM workers, and the whole working class, get their fair share.”
GM said in a statement Tuesday that it was “disappointed by the escalation of this unnecessary and irresponsible strike.”
“It is harming our team members who are sacrificing their livelihoods and having negative ripple effects on our dealers, suppliers and the communities that rely on us,” the company said.
The strike in Texas comes just one day after the union shut down production at Stellantis’ Sterling Heights plant in Michigan, where the company makes its Ram pickup truck. As with the GM strike in Arlington, the union pointed out that it was now targeting Stellantis’ most profitable vehicles.
The UAW said Stellantis had put forth the “worst” offer of any of the Big Three. Its assessment of GM was not much kinder, saying Tuesday that GM’s latest offer “fails to reward UAW members for the profits they’ve generated.” The union cited “deficient” cost-of-living increases and “the weakest 401(k) contribution offer on the table” at GM.
This is the first time the UAW has ever waged a concurrent strike at all three companies. Workers are trying to secure major gains in new four-year contracts, citing previous concessions they made to help stabilize the companies following the financial crisis.
The union launched its strike on Sept. 15 at only select facilities, following an unpredictable playbook that leaves room for more walkouts. The Arlington strike is the third in two weeks that the union declared with no warning, hoping to catch the companies off guard.
The UAW had previously been setting deadlines before shutting down plants.
“[B]ut then the Big Three began to slow walk bargaining until just before each deadline,” the union said, prompting it to choose a less predictable strategy.