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UAW expands strike to crucial GM SUV plant in Texas hours after automaker reports earnings

Rebecca Cook | Reuters
  • The United Auto Workers expanded its strikes against General Motors to a highly profitable full-size SUV plant in Texas.
  • The strike escalation includes roughly 5,000 workers at GM's Arlington Assembly plant.
  • The walkout came just hours after the automaker reported third-quarter earnings results that beat Wall Street's expectations.

DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union on Tuesday expanded its strike against General Motors to a highly profitable full-size SUV plant in Texas — a swift response to healthy profits and record third-quarter revenue for the automaker.

The Tuesday strike escalation includes roughly 5,000 workers at GM's Arlington Assembly plant, which produces the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs.

The walkout came just hours after the automaker reported third-quarter earnings results that beat Wall Street's expectations.

"Another record quarter, another record year. As we've said for months: record profits equal record contracts," said UAW President Shawn Fain in a statement. "It's time GM workers, and the whole working class, get their fair share."

Fain's claims of record results for the automaker reference record third-quarter revenue, according to the union. GM reported declining profits for the quarter.

The automaker disclosed in its quarterly update that the UAW strike has already cost it $800 million in lost production — before the Arlington disruption — including $200 million during the third quarter.

GM, in a statement, said 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, later adding it's "time for us to finish this process."

More than 45,000 UAW members at the Detroit automakers, or roughly 31% of union members covered by the expired contracts, are now on strike. Another 7,000 or so, or about 5% of the workers, have been laid off due to ripple effects of the strikes, according to the companies.

The strike began on Sept. 15 with walkouts for each of the automakers at assembly plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. They have since grown to include eight assembly plants and 38 parts distribution centers in 22 states.

The strike at the Arlington plant comes a day after the UAW targeted a key plant for Stellantis in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and nearly two weeks after a walkout at a Kentucky truck plant that's responsible for $25 billion annually in revenue for Ford Motor. The unannounced walkouts at profitable facilities represent what Fain has called a "new phase" of bargaining with the Detroit automakers.

The union had earlier threatened GM's Arlington plant.

On Oct. 6 Fain said the UAW was planning a walkout at the facility until GM made a last-minute proposal to include workers at the company's joint-venture battery cell plants in the company's master agreement.

However, it appears that progress has since stalled: Fain told reporters Monday that talks regarding the battery cell plants were "dead in the water," declining to elaborate on where the discussions stood.

GM CEO Mary Barra said during the company's third-quarter investor call Tuesday that discussions to include battery plant workers "under the scope of the national agreement" remained open, but said the current focus is for workers at the joint venture, known as Ultium, to negotiate their own deal with the union.

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