DETROIT — The UAW is ready to "fight" General Motors during collective bargaining negotiations this summer, according to UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.
Dittes used a speech Tuesday to UAW delegates to heavily criticize GM for its use of thousands of temporary workers, increasing production in Mexico and the potential closure of four U.S. plants by January 2020, among other union issues.
"Brothers and sisters, you can see what we're up against as we open negotiations this coming summer," he said during the UAW's 2019 Special Bargaining Convention. "But I can tell you, we are ready for the fight and I know you're ready for the fight and I know our members are ready for the fight."
Dittes, who oversees the union's GM Department, said there are "more plants that may be in jeopardy as time goes on." He did not provide specifics.
A GM spokeswoman, in response to Dittes' comments, said the company continuously looks at its "global operations for greater efficiency and capacity utilization." She reiterated GM remains "committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S," including more than $22 billion investments in domestic operations since 2009.
Dittes, a first-term vice president, particularly took aim at GM being the largest automaker in the U.S., but with fewer union members in the U.S. than Ford Motor Co. and, potentially, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the near future. He also noted the company's increasing production in Mexico.
GM last year became Mexico's largest auto producer, topping Nissan Motor Co. in a year when it reduced output by an estimated 5 percent in the U.S. and an estimated 33 percent in Canada, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Automakers routinely use temporary workers to assist during launches, heavy times of vacation and other short-term work. The UAW has argued companies overuse and misuse temp workers who do not receive the same benefits as company employees doing the same job.
Dittes' comments come weeks after the UAW filed a lawsuit in federal court that accuses GM of breaching its 2015 collective bargaining agreement with the union.