Negotiators for the United Auto Workers and Ford had “reasonably productive discussions” toward a new contract, the union said on Saturday, while officials at Chrysler parent Stellantis said the UAWhad rejected a plan to save jobs at an Illinois factory.
About 12,700 UAW workers remained on strike for a second day as part of a coordinated labor action targeting three U.S. assembly plants – one at each of the Detroit Three automakers.
Union negotiators and representatives of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis resumed talks on Saturday, a day after the UAW initiated the most ambitious U.S. industrial labor action in decades.
There was no sign of a breakthrough as of Saturday afternoon.
However, the UAW comment about the tenor of talks at Ford was more positive than the union’s characterization of progress ahead of the kickoff of the strikes. On Thursday, Ford CEO Jim Farley said the UAW’s proposals would push the company to bankruptcy, adding that there was “nothing going on” in negotiations.
“As we have said all along, Ford has bet on the UAW more than any other company. We are committed to reaching an agreement with UAW that rewards our workers and allows Ford to invest in the future. We have to win together,” Mark Truby, Ford’s chief communications officer, said in a statement.
Stellantis said on Saturday it had hiked its offer, proposing raises of 20% over a four-and-a-half-year contract term, including an immediate 10% hike. That matches proposals from GM and Ford.
The automakers said the proposals work out to a cumulative 21% hike over the period, but they are still significantly below the 40% wage hike the UAW is demanding through 2027. The union’s wage demand includes a 20% immediate increase.
Mark Stewart, the North American chief operating officer for Stellantis, told reporters on Saturday the UAW rejected a proposal to keep an assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois open, noting that the company’s offer had been contingent on reaching agreement before the contract expiration.
Stewart declined to offer specific details, but added that Stellantis was still willing to talk about the facility’s future. He described the company’s latest offer as “very compelling.”
Stellantis also said it is offering more than $1 billion in retirement security improvements and other increases in benefits.
“This is not about greed,” he said, “This is about sharing success.”