Chrysler's Warren UAW Workers Strike, Disrupt Ram Truck Output

By Jason Davis | March 01, 2013
Depending on your political persuasion, you may be inclined to believe the United States economy is improving and that unemployment claims are decreasing. Regardless of your beliefs, though, there's the matter of math to support this evidence. No, I'm not speaking of weekly jobs added and unemployment claims reports, but in general purchasing power and the demand for American automobiles. If you hadn't noticed, Chrysler's not doing too badly these days. The Fiat-controlled brand produced 2.4 million vehicles last year, up from 950,000 in 2009, and thanks to the 2013 Ram 1500 (Motor Trend's Truck of the Year), Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the brand is on schedule to push 2.6 million cars and trucks this year. To meet the rise in consumer demand, Chrysler recently switched its plant workers to a three-shift schedule, with members working four, 10-hour days a week. That seems like a feasible, efficient solution to a good problem (consumer demand for more vehicles being greater than less demand and layoffs). Except that not everyone is happy about it right now.
Thursday, workers picketed outside the Warren Truck Plant, protesting the change. Some see it as a ploy by Chrysler to avoid paying Saturday overtime pay (the new system requires many workers to work on Saturday), while others lament having different work schedules than spouses, or that it will interfere with daytime college classes, or an inability to find weekend childcare. Unfortunately for the workers, the UAW isn't backing 'em in this fight. In an email to The Detroit News on Wednesday, UAW Vice President General Holiefield, head of the union's Chrysler Department said "The international union, including myself and staff from the UAW-Chrysler Department, met with workers from Chrysler's Warren Stamping Plant at a town hall meeting recently to explain [the alternative work schedule] first approved by UAW Chrysler members in 2003." Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said that Chrysler is "aware of their complaints, and we understand that change is difficult." In the meantime, the dispute has affected the quantity and quality of vehicles produced at the Warren Plant this week. "As with the launch of any new vehicle, there were internal issues with the launch, but we were able to contain those issues," Tinson said. "We have been pleased with the efforts of our employees who are focused on building high quality trucks and as a result, plant quality indicators are getting progressively better." Source: The Detroit News