Walkout at Orlando parts depot as United Auto Workers strike expands

Workers at Chrysler parts center join the strike

ORLANDO, Fla. – Union workers at a Chrylser parts depot in Orlando walked off the job Friday as the United Auto Workers union expanded its strike against major automakers across the country.

The strike began one week ago against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, maker of Chrysler and Dodge vehicles, with 13,000 of the 146,000 UAW workers taking part.

UAW’s president Shawn Fain said Ford has met some of the union’s demands and is continuing negotiations, so the company was spared from the strike expansion.

On Friday an additional 5,600 workers went on strike at 38 General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution centers in 20 states, including the Chrysler parts distribution center on Boggy Creek Road in Orlando.

About 70 workers from UAW Local 1649 work at that facility.

“We’re out here because this is real. This is real for us,” said Bernard Stewart, president of the Local 1649. “You know, no one wants to be on strike. No one. But sometimes if that is what it leads to, then that’s what it leads to.”

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“We’ve made some real progress at Ford,” Fain said during an online presentation to union members. “We still have serious issues to work through, but we do want to recognize that Ford is showing that they are serious about reaching a deal.”

“At GM and Stellantis, it’s a different story,” he said.

UAW is seeking pay raises of 36% over four years, and a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay. They also want the automakers to restore traditional benefit pensions for new hires, instead of 401(k)-style retirement plans.

The union says it gave up general pay raises and cost-of-living wage increases during the 2007-2009 financial crisis and the Great Recession to help the companies control costs, and in that time the companies have seen profits boom, with CEOs getting millions in compensation.

“We gave up a lot of things, made a lot of concessions years ago to help the company survive. Now they have really survived and it’s time to bargain back the things that we gave up, the things that we are owed. They don’t want to bargain,” Stewart said.

The companies say they can’t afford to meet the union’s demands as they transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles.

The big three automakers in Detroit have raked in billions in profits in the last few years, especially as vehicle prices have soared. In 2022, Stellantis made $17.9 billion in profit, while General Motors made $9.9 billion and Ford lost $2.2 billion. The CEOs of all three major automakers earn multiple millions in annual compensation.

Information from the Associated Press was used to write this report.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.