DETROIT — Another automaker is trying to cut its workforce to trim expenses and stay competitive as the industry makes the long and costly transition to electric vehicles.
Stellantis on Wednesday said it’s offering buyouts to groups of white-collar and unionized employees in the U.S., as well as hourly workers in Canada.
The cuts are “in response to today’s increasingly competitive global market conditions and the necessary shift to electrification,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Stellantis said it’s looking to reduce its hourly workforce by about 3,500, but wouldn’t say how many salaried employees it’s targeting.
The company has about 56,000 workers in the U.S., and about 33,000 of them could get the offers. Of those, 31,000 are blue-collar workers and 2,500 salaried employees.
Another 8,000 union workers in Canada also will get offers, the company said.
Stellantis, formed in the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Groupe, says in a statement that it’s reviewing its North American operations to trim costs, become more efficient and protect the competitiveness of its products.
The company says it’s offering packages to certain salaried workers who have 15 or more years of service. Packages also are being offered to unionized employees in the U.S. and Canada.
Information about the packages will go to employees the week of May 1.
The offers drew immediate criticism from Shawn Fain, the new president of the United Auto Workers union. “Stellantis’ push to cut thousands of jobs while raking in billions in profits is disgusting,” Fain said in a prepared statement. “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.”
The former Chrysler company went through a government-funded bankruptcy in 2009 and was eventually merged with Italian automaker Fiat.
The offers follow Ford and General Motors, which have trimmed their workforces in the past year through buyout offers. About 5,000 white-collar workers took General Motors up on offers to leave the company this year. Ford cut about 3,000 contract and full-time salaried workers last summer, giving them severance packages.
The union’s testy statement about Stellantis comes ahead of what are expected to be contentious contract talks between Detroit’s three automakers, the United Auto Workers, and Unifor, the Canadian union representing auto workers.
Talks with both unions will open this summer. The UAW contracts expire in September.
Last week, Fain told reporters that he’s unhappy with all three companies over efforts to unionize new joint-venture factories that will make battery cells for future electric vehicles.
All three companies are investing billions to build at least 10 battery factories in North America to handle expected demand for EVs.
Fain singled out Stellantis, saying it failed to include the union when it announced a battery factory in Kokomo, Indiana. He also said Stellantis’ plans to close a factory in Belvidere, Illinois, is unacceptable. Stellantis placed the Belvidere plant on “idle” in February and laid off most of its roughly 1,350 workers.
Fain won a narrow election last month running on the platform that the union for too long has been cooperative with the automakers. He would not say if a strike against Stellantis is likely.