Stellantis Laying Off Hundreds of Temporary Employees

The automaker says 535 supplemental employees are being laid off, but a UAW official says the total could exceed 1,600.

Joseph Szczesny

January 16, 2024

3 Min Read
Jeep wrangler_4xe_toledo_2
Stellantis launched Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid production at Toledo, OH, in 2021.

Stellantis is laying off hundreds of supplemental blue-collar workers as the automaker expands efforts to hold down costs on the heels of negotiating an expensive new labor contract with the UAW and as sales of its key brands such as Jeep and Ram show signs of stalling.

Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says that as of Jan. 12 the company idled 535 supplemental employees – temporary workers paid less than full-time employees – at various U.S. manufacturing operations.

“As part of our normal course of business, Stellantis regularly analyzes staffing levels at our manufacturing facilities to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible,” the company says in a statement emailed to WardsAuto. “Following an operational review, the Company is reducing the number of Supplemental Employees across our U.S. footprint, effective immediately. This action will help improve the efficiency, productivity and market competitiveness of our facilities as we implement our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan.”

But Rich Boyer, head of the UAW’s Stellantis Dept., says in a letter sent to local union officers that more than 1,600 supplemental employees could be at risk of being laid off.

In the letter, Boyer notes Stellantis and its principal U.S. subsidiary, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, converted or promoted 2,857 of the company’s 5,219 supplemental employees to full-time status when the new contract was ratified in November.

The number of supplemental employees promoted to full-time status included more than 900 at the automaker’s Jeep complex in Toledo, OH, according to Boyer. Stellantis also has told the UAW it expects to keep 500 supplemental employees in a pool to cover for absent workers at various assembly plants, Boyer says.

However, Boyer’s figures indicate anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 of the supplemental employees could be laid off because they will lack the seniority to convert to full-time status as the new labor contract requires.

“The company has the intent and the direction to significantly reduce the number of (supplemental employees) that will attain nine months of corporate time,” Boyer adds.

Stellantis does not want the supplemental employees, many of them hired as temps at $16 per hour as the company ramped up production during the summer, to reach the nine-month mark and potentially become eligible for extended unemployment benefits.

The fate of the temporary workers was a major issue for the union throughout the 46-day “Stand-Up Strike” last fall.

UAW President Shawn Fain made ending the pay disparity between the temporary workers and longtime employees at Stellantis, Ford and General Motors a key demand at the bargaining table.

The issue was of particular concern in the talks with Stellantis which, the UAW maintained, routinely hired temps at lower wages for its manufacturing operations.

The UAW’s new contract with Stellantis did effectively double the pay of many temporary workers by raising them to full-time status with better wages, health care and layoff benefits as well as boosting contributions to their individual 401(k) retirement plans.

Fain says the limits on temporary workers is a victory for auto workers not only in Detroit but everywhere.

However, many of Stellantis’ supplemental employees are disappointed by the prospect of being laid off if they fall short of making the jump to full-time status.

Jeep Wagoneer Stellantis Warren Truck.jpg

Jeep Wagoneer Stellantis Warren Truck

“Everyone told us to hold on and things would get better. We held on with all we had, (only) to be left behind and kicked to the curb,” notes a social media post from Ashley Wilmoth, a UAW Local 140 member at the Warren Truck Assembly plant in Warren, MI (pictured, above).

The situation is further complicated because Stellantis is preparing to cut back production at plants in Detroit and Toledo where the company builds Jeep-brand vehicles.

Jeep along with Ram is Stellantis’ principal money-maker in North America at a time when the company is under pressure to invest in electric vehicles while covering the cost of new labor contracts.

Stellantis has made or is making other cuts, dropping plans for Super Bowl ads, abandoning its corporate presence at CES 2024 in Las Vegas and withdrawing corporate support for auto shows across the country, including next month’s Chicago auto show.

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