The UAW's primary sore spots are the GM assembly plants in Lordstown, Ohio, which stopped production in March, and in Detroit, which has not been assigned any work after January 2020. The company also has "unallocated" smaller powertrain plants near Detroit and Baltimore.
Shortly after Lordstown shut down, GM announced $700 million for three other Ohio plants that would create some 450 jobs. GM also has touted a bevy of smaller investments in other plants, after what has become a common routine for the Detroit 3 in contract years to help win workers' support.
But this year's layoffs and other production cutbacks since 2015 have, for the first time, left GM with the smallest UAW membership among the Detroit 3.
FCA, whose UAW membership has more than doubled since 2011, should be in a more comfortable negotiating position than GM, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. FCA has said its $4.5 billion investment in southeastern Michigan to usher in the next phase of Jeep products will create 6,400 jobs in the area over the next few years.
At the same time, the company cut 1,400 jobs at its Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Ill., after seven years of operating it around the clock on three crews.
Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, has been laying off salaried workers but keeping hourly employment relatively steady while shuffling some production among its plants.
Ford in November said it would eliminate shifts at assembly plants in Michigan and Kentucky, offering to transfer affected workers to nearby operations. It also has made some sizable investments, including $1 billion at its Chicago assembly and stamping plants to launch the redesigned Ford Explorer and new Lincoln Aviator.
The growing number of layoffs has clouded the mood inside assembly plants where workers were earning record profit-sharing checks amid the market's resurgence since the Great Recession.