Stellantis NV is asking its white-collar workers to volunteer to cross the United Auto Workers picket line to work in distribution centers shipping vehicle parts to dealerships, the call coming from the automaker’s top executives in North America North as well as its diversity. and inclusion groups.
On September 22, the UAW called on approximately 2,150 UAW members working at Stellantis’ Mopar parts distribution centers to go on strike alongside similar General Motors Co. warehouses after the parties have failed to make progress in their collective negotiations. The move disrupted shipments of parts for vehicle repairs and aftermarket components to dealerships.
As a result, Stellantis executives called on its non-union workers to help keep parts flowing. In response to this need, its business resource groups focused on marginalized communities have also reached out to their members for help, specifically designating days for their members to volunteer. Its 11 BRGs in the United States include the Women’s Alliance, Stellantis African American Network Diaspora, Prism LGBTQ+ Alliance, Veterans Group, DIVERSE-abilities Network and others.
“Each BRG will choose a specific day of the week/weekend to volunteer as a team,” according to a flyer obtained by The Detroit News that was sent to Working Parents Network members announcing Oct. 13 as the distribution day for pieces. centers. “Help us continue to be the RESOURCE the BUSINESS can count on!” »
Interested individuals had to obtain manager approval, register and receive training to participate.
BRGs are part of Stellantis’ diversity and inclusion efforts to make the workplace a space where employees feel like they belong: “They develop multicultural learning opportunities, mentoring and networking events, community outreach initiatives, charitable activities and contribute to the development and improvement of human resources policies and processes within Stellantis,” according to the automaker’s website.
In a statement provided by spokeswoman Jodi Tinson, the company declined to say how many employees volunteered to respond to calls for action.
“Meeting customer needs and maintaining their continued loyalty is a top priority,” the release said. “As a result, we have requested non-union employee volunteers to help PDC continue to serve our customers. Our Business Resource Groups, made up of passionate and dedicated employees, were among the first to raise their hands and expand their role. as a resource for the company.
The groups represent thousands of Stellantis employees. White-collar workers as well as workers in the manufacturing sector and bargaining units can join. The company had also begun creating BRG sections in manufacturing plants to better include and engage workers.
The UAW had no immediate comment Friday on the request.
The request sent by the Working Parents Network included a letter with details of canvassing efforts among non-union employees, from Mark Stewart, head of North America operations, and Mike Koval Jr., Mopar’s new head of North America.
“After a productive weekend with the help of volunteers at our Centerline and Marysville, Michigan parts distribution centers, the Mopar team still has a critical and immediate need for volunteers to staff the 18 PDC locations every day at across the country,” they wrote. “We ask that you seriously consider supporting this important initiative to help build customer loyalty, whether they are fleet owners, first responders or our friends and family.
The company asks volunteer workers from its Center Line and Marysville centers to meet at its Auburn Hills technical center and take a chartered bus to the sites. Since last Wednesday, the company has been planning two shifts per day.
Antonio Wright, 28, of Sterling Heights, is on strike at the Center Line parts distribution center. Walking the picket line in the late afternoon every other day or so, Wright said he saw the buses bringing workers to his workplace, noting that there were usually only a few people on board.
“There are five heads at most,” he said. “I’m frustrated, angry.”
Fifteen is the largest number of people on a bus reported to Larry Wynn, president of UAW Local 1248 which represents workers at Mopar centers in Center Line, Romulus and Warren. In the last days. buses came daily.
“They’re soliciting managers to come and do our work,” Wynn said. “It’s no different than hiring scabs off the street.”
There is a long history of companies using corporate or employee resource groups to counter labor movements, said Patricia Campos-Medina, co-director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University.
Diversity and inclusion “are meant to bring vulnerable communities a sense of belonging,” she said. Calling workers to cross a picket line “divides them.”
“The UAW’s message of transcending gender, race and age has been effective,” Campos-Medina added. “This is why the strike is effective.”
Cheryl Thompson, CEO of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement and herself a former UAW member, said the company frequently uses business resource groups to educate, develop ways to boost sales and to recruit.
“They’re called corporate resource groups because they also give back to the company,” Thompson said in contrast to the term “employee resource group.” “These groups support marginalized employees and help them in their careers. It’s a two-way street and gives back to the company. Their feedback improves the culture.”
Before the strike that began Sept. 15, Ford Motor Co. trained about 1,200 workers to staff, if necessary, 23 parts depots in 15 states. The UAW spared the Dearborn automaker from an expanded strike the week it sent out parts distribution workers at Stellantis and General Motors Co. after the Blue Oval agreed to concessions on the demands of the UAW regarding levels, job security and wages.
These efforts by automakers, said Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, “show how important these dealerships are and how much they need these spare parts distribution centers.