The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Plans to Push More Work on Fewer Workers

May 1, 2023

Stellantis—which owns the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat brands—just announced temporary layoffs and buyouts aimed at its U.S. hourly workforce. By the end of the year, they plan to eliminate 3,500 jobs total, across seven assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada. These voluntary “inverse” layoffs were first offered to high seniority workers.

The company wants to eliminate jobs for production workers and skilled trades. They state that openings created by members accepting buyouts—either 50,000 dollars to retire or a lump sum based on seniority to quit the company—would be filled by workers on indefinite layoff.

The Detroit News reports Stellantis conducted “efficiency assessments"—sometimes called time studies—at sites corporate-wide. These studies, conducted by industrial engineers, were done to find ways to put more work on fewer workers, thus increasing profits.

Stellantis already implemented similar cost cutting at manufacturing facilities in Italy in 2022 and 2023 and in Slovakia in 2023.

In the U.S., Stellantis now employs 43,000 hourly workers. The company has said they are mailing offers to 31,000 workers at the company who have at least 1 year of seniority. Not included are the workers Stellantis calls Supplemental Employees, who have the worst pay, benefits and working conditions.

To increase profits, the company has every intention of having more workers at this lowest tier. These buy-outs and small incentives to quit the company will accomplish this.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares states that costs must be cut to pay for the transition to electric vehicles. He fails to mention Stellantis had global profits of 18 billion dollars in 2022. Tavares acts as if THAT money does not exist. In doing so, this CEO protects the collective interests of the capitalist class who treat the vast majority of the 18 billion dollars as THEIR money. Under the rules of capitalism, this money will NOT be used to raise wages, lower the price of vehicles—or pay for any shift to electric vehicles.

In response to the company’s announcement of planned job cuts, newly elected UAW union president Shawn Fain issued the following statement on behalf of the UAW International: “Stellantis’ push to cut thousands of jobs while raking in billions in profits is disgusting. This is a slap in the face to our members, their families, their communities, and the American people who saved this company 15 years ago. Even now, politicians and taxpayers are bankrolling the electric vehicle transition, and this is the thanks the working class gets. Shame on Stellantis.”

When companies announce they will eliminate jobs, this means they aim to get more work out of fewer workers. The old name for this attack is “speed-up.” Speed-up is the key ingredient of the soup Stellantis is putting together to reach a declared goal of doubling global corporate revenue by the year 2030.

Not only Stellantis, but also Ford and GM make it plain they plan to cut labor costs. In order for auto workers to improve their situation and not go further backwards—there is one solution for the working class. Collective activity.

What does Stellantis do when workers need to collectively prepare for a fight to improve wages and working conditions? They throw buyouts at workers. They mail offers to 31,000 hourly workers and 2,500 salaried workers. Stellantis is forcing each worker to read that letter and think as an individual. But there is no reason to let the company trick workers into ONLY thinking individually in a contract year. The answer to the workers’ big picture problems is collective activity—coming together and making a fight for what workers deserve.