Naperville, Bolingbrook UAW strike against GM, Stellantis

Car dealerships across the nation may soon be feeling the effects of the ongoing United Auto Workers strike.

After little progress was made at the bargaining table, the strike, on Friday, entered its eighth day against GM and Stellantis, which makes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles.

"The companies know how to make this right," said United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain. "Invest these record profits into stable jobs and sustainable wages and benefits, it’s that simple."

Now, UAW picket lines have expanded to 38 plants in 20 states, including two suburban facilities.

"We don’t want to strike, we want just what’s right," said one UAW Local 1178 member.

Members of the United Auto Workers Local 1178 at the Chrysler parts distribution center owned by Stellantis in Naperville walked out at noon after being called on by union leaders Friday morning.

"We’re the ones who provide the parts for all Chrysler vehicles," said UAW Local 1178 President Josie Hernandez.

There, Hernandez said they’ll be picketing around the clock until automakers come to the table with what they consider a fair deal.

"We’re here trying to live the American dream," said Hernandez.

That dream has been put on hold for thousands of UAW members nationwide who have walked off the job to demand higher pay, the restoration of traditional pensions for new hires, and an end to the tiered wage system.

"I am working the exact same hours as many of my coworkers but for a far lower wage," said Robert Kraft, UAW Local 1178 member. "We’ve been working our butts off just trying to make sure the company is profitable, it’s high time that those profits are shared with us – the common worker."

On Friday evening, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth joined the effort.

"These folks are the backbone, the blood and soul of America," said U.S. Sen. Duckworth, (D) Illinois. "They’re asking for the ability to send their kids to school, pay their mortgage, have a retirement."

Workers at the GM plant in Bolingbrook are also on strike.

The UAW was initially asking for a 40% pay raise over four years and a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, among other demands. Now, the UAW said it is willing to accept a pay raise percentage in the mid-30s. 

All of the Big Three automakers have agreed to a 20 percent pay increase.

Stellantis released the following statement on Friday:

"Following yesterday’s publication of comments made by the UAW’s Communications Director and the subsequent strike announcement, we question whether the union’s leadership has ever had an interest in reaching an agreement in a timely manner. They seem more concerned about pursuing their own political agendas than negotiating in the best interests of our employees and the sustainability of our U.S. operations given the market’s fierce competition.

"The fact is, we made a very competitive offer yesterday that includes all our current full-time hourly employees earning between $80,000 and $96,000 a year by the end of the contract (a 21.4% compounded increase); a long-term solution for Belvidere; and, significant product allocation that allows for workforce stability through the end of the contract. And yet, we still have not received a response to that offer. We look forward to the UAW leadership’s productive engagement so that we can bargain in good faith to reach an agreement that will protect the competitiveness of our Company and our ability to continue providing good jobs."

Meanwhile, General Motors released this statement:

"Today’s strike escalation by the UAW’s top leadership is unnecessary. The decision to strike an additional 18 of our facilities, affecting more than 3,000 team members plus their families and communities, adds validity to the blueprint identified in last night’s leaked texts -- that the UAW leadership is manipulating the bargaining process for their own personal agendas.

"We have contingency plans for various scenarios and are prepared to do what is best for our business, our customers, and our dealers.

"We have now presented five separate economic proposals that are historic, addressing areas that our team members have said matters most: wage increases and job security while allowing GM to succeed and thrive into the future. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible."

Fain says workers aren't backing down.

"Our ‘Stand Up Strike’ strategy is designed to do one thing, win record contracts after years of record profits. We're focused on moving the companies at the bargaining table. That means maintaining our flexibility and leverage to escalate as we need to," Fain said. 

Ford workers were also on strike, however, no additional plants were called on Friday after the company met some of the union’s demands this week.