Days after General Motors announced its proposed restructuring plan the United Auto Workers union responded. It said, “The UAW and our members will confront this decision by GM through every legal, contractual, and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership.” The UAW didn’t wait long. This week, UAW President Gary Jones announced the union had contacted GM to object to the proposed plant closures.
“We have been clear that the UAW will leave no stone unturned and use any and all resources available to us regarding the future of these plants,” said Jones. “Today, we wrote to GM formally objecting to its unilateral decision regarding four U.S. manufacturing facilities. There are issues related to this and to collective bargaining that we cannot discuss in detail at this point.”
In GM’s $6 billion restructuring plan, the Detroit automaker announced it wanted to lay off workers, discontinue six models, and close plants, except the company didn’t explicitly say that. GM used “unallocated” to describe the plants—a very specific term. The automaker cannot unilaterally shut down plants. The term means the automaker does not plan to build any models at these facilities. GM will have to negate the four plants’ official closures with the UAW. The current contract is set to expire in September 2019. The UAW will use the nearly 15,000 production worker layoffs as leverage just as the automaker will use the “unallocated” plants as leverage against the union.
“Characterizing these plants as ‘unallocated’—rather than closed or idled—does nothing to relieve the company of its obligation to comply with the Plant Closing Moratorium,” wrote the head of the UAW’s GM department, Terry Dittes, in a letter sent to GM’s vice president of labor relations, Scott Sandefur, that was obtained by The Detroit News.
GM’s announcement has riled lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with some UAW-endorsed Michigan Democrats attacking the company à la U.S. President Donald Trump. However, no amount of threats can thwart changing consumers trends. Much of GM’s plan rests on moving resources away from slow-selling cars and sedans to profitable crossovers, SUVs, trucks, EVs, and self-driving vehicles. The production facilities and models affected by GM’s $6 billion restructuring are tied to those low-selling models such as the Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, and Buick LaCrosse. And you can’t peacefully make people buy what they don’t want.