I’ve been an employee of this company for 29 years. My roots in this company run back to my Grandpa Fain hiring in at Chrysler back in 1937, the year the UAW first organized Chrysler.
Throughout my 29 years, during the best and worst of times, our members have always delivered.
Throughout my 29 years with this company, we’ve been called Chrysler, Daimler Chrysler, Cerberus, FCA and now Stellantis. Our members have endured being spun off and sold out repeatedly, but they’ve always delivered.
From 2003 forward, this company has closed plants under every agreement.
In 2003, under the guise of helping the company be more competitive, it was agreed by both parties for several plants to either be closed or sold.
In 2009, our members were told they had to be like foreign transplants, and another five plants were put on the chopping block. That was on top of our members, both active and retired, making massive sacrifices to keep this company afloat.
In 2015, more plants were spun off or idled.
Since the 2019 agreement was ratified, we’ve witnessed Belvidere Assembly being idled, METD being idled, Marysville Axle being spun off, Trenton North plant being idled, Toledo machining continuing a downward spiral with no commitment of work, and salary bargaining unit jobs being continually attacked.
We’ve seen tradespeople of 37 years be forced to work production as the lowest seniority person, on the worst production jobs, as a reward for their years of service. As a result, many of them were forced to retire.
Our members worked as essential workers through a pandemic. Some lost their lives to COVID-19, while many at corporate headquarters, three years later, are still working from home.
Our workers who have been working six to seven days a week have been denied use of PAA days.
We’ve seen this company choose to form a joint venture with Samsung to build batteries right in the backyard of all the Kokomo powertrain plants, with no commitment to our members or our master agreement terms.
Then, to top it all off, we are witnessing this company play games with our members’ lives by forcing multiple plants to critical status.
For over 20 years, our members have sacrificed repeatedly, and it is unacceptable that this company has taken many of these actions during the greatest economic expansion and most profitable years in the history of the Big Three.
Our members have busted their asses to deliver quality products to the consumer while their conditions have regressed, and their bodies endure wear and tear due to working seven-day schedules.
The hard work of our members has generated record profits for this company and the payoff is to continue to tell the workers their job security means nothing to this corporation, and we need them to give more in the name of competition.
We are constantly presented with the same tired script from the companies; that we must remain competitive, which is nothing more than a continued race to the bottom in a quest to follow the lowest bidder to pay poverty wages.
Today and during bargaining, we are going to hear about how we need to “work together,” and “find solutions to take on the competition.” Talk is cheap. Just as with safety audits or former WCM audits, if you’re going to have success, you have to live the culture year-round, not just for two weeks before an audit to look good for ratings. Bargaining is no different. You can’t preach teamwork and “working together to find solutions” while, for the past several years, “working together” has been a non-existent, one-way street.
Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart stated how many people can’t afford our vehicles. Well, many of your workers can’t afford to buy what they build.
Mr. Stewart stated they want employees to be excited. How do you get employee excitement or loyalty? You pay a livable wage, with benefits that give them a secure retirement.
The bargaining committee, Vice President Boyer, and I will be presenting economic demands as we progress, so we’ll see how excited you want your workers to be.
As President of our union, I’m here to tell you, this is a new day for our members, and we are going in a new direction. Our members, both active and retired, have sacrificed more than their share and it’s time this company rewards their sacrifice with economic Justice.
We will not stand for the continued lack of respect for our jobs and our future.
How this round of bargaining goes will hinge on whether this company is going to treat the workers with the dignity that is long overdue.
We do not expect the traditional path of opening bargaining and spending a month and a half talking our demands to death.
September 14th is a deadline, not a reference point, so it is in the best interest for this corporation to get down to business with our bargaining committee and get to work to resolve the demands of the membership.
I want to close by saying I find a pathetic irony in the fact that we were late in getting started today because the head of Stellantis North America. Mr. Stewart was late for our 10 o’clock start time. And Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares wants to constantly talk about absenteeism when it comes to our workers, yet Mr. Tavares can’t find the time to attend the beginning of the most critical set of bargaining in this company and our workers’ history.
It’s time to get to work. We have 63 days, and the clock is ticking.