Stellantis announces more indefinite layoffs, as rising gas prices and interest rates slow auto sales


Employees at Sterling Stamping Plant remove a minivan roof after it has been stamped in a 180-inch Transfer Press [Photo by Stellantis Media]

Indefinite layoffs were scheduled to begin this week at the Stellantis Sterling Stamping plant in the north Detroit suburbs. Far from opposing the cuts, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is collaborating to shift displaced workers to other Stellantis plants scores or hundreds of miles away, including the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, and the transmission complex in Kokomo, Indiana.

Neither the UAW nor management has divulged how many jobs will be cut, nor what portion of those being laid off will be full-time workers or temps. According to a letter circulated by UAW Local 1264 at Sterling Stamping, there were 90 available job slots for displaced workers at Detroit-area Mopar parts and distribution facilities, as well as 150 at Toledo Assembly, 39 skilled trades positions in Kokomo and 50 parts hauling jobs with FCA Transport. The UAW also announced that Stellantis was adding 460 temp jobs.

In a statement on the cuts, Stellantis spokeswoman Ann Marie Fortunate said, “In order to operate the plant in a more sustainable manner Stellantis confirms that there will be indefinite layoffs at the Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, effective June 20.” There are over 2,100 workers at Sterling Stamping, which Stellantis claims is the largest stamping plant in the world.

The layoff announcement comes as new vehicle sales have been hit by rising gas prices and higher interest rates, which make car financing more expensive. US new car sales fell to an annualized rate of 12.8 million in May, down from 14.6 million in April. Historically car sales have picked up in May.

This month, the US Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by 0.75 percentage points, the highest single rate increase in almost 30 years. The interest rate hikes, using the pretext of fighting inflation, are in reality intended to drive up unemployment in order to dampen the militancy of workers who are demanding wage increases to compensate for price rises.

Stellantis and the other Detroit automakers have been reaping bumper profits despite constant production interruptions due to parts shortages. At the same time, regular plant shutdowns, along with skyrocketing inflation, have wreaked havoc on workers’ incomes.

At the end of March, 98 workers had been laid off at Sterling Stamping. Warren Stamping had laid off an unspecified number of workers in April.

Stellantis had also announced indefinite layoffs at other plants earlier this year, including at the assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and at Windsor Assembly in Ontario, Canada.

At Belvidere, management has announced a goal of reducing employment to just 800 workers, down from the current count of 1,800 and far below the 5,000 the plant employed in 2019. Stellantis is still threatening to cut the second shift at Windsor Assembly, although it has extended the shift through the end of 2022.


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Jaime E. Love

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