Nearly six weeks into its historic strike against the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers, the United Auto Workers late Wednesday announced a tentative contract deal with Ford that includes significant wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments that were scrapped during the 2008 financial crisis.
In a statement, the UAW’s leadership said the gains achieved in the deal amount to four times what workers received in the 2019 contract that recently expired. Ford’s original proposal for a new contract included wage increases of just 9% while the union demanded a 46% boost, pointing to the automakers’ surging profits over the past decade.
The tentative deal calls for a 25% general wage increase over four years, including an 11% boost in the first year. The UAW said the top wage under the tentative agreement would rise to more than $40 an hour over the life of the contract and the starting wage would jump to over $28 an hour — a 68% increase — thanks to cost-of-living adjustments.
“For months we’ve said that record profits mean record contracts. And UAW family, our Stand-Up Strike has delivered,” said UAW president Shawn Fain. “What started at three plants at midnight on September 15, has become a national movement. We won things nobody thought possible. Since the strike began, Ford put 50% more on the table than when we walked out. This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three, and across the auto industry. Together, we are turning the tide for the working class in this country.”
Chuck Browning, the UAW’s vice president, said that “thanks to the power of our members on the picket line and the threat of more strikes to come, we have won the most lucrative agreement per member since Walter Reuther was president.”
The tentative deal must be approved by Ford UAW members, more than 16,000 of whom were on strike as of Wednesday. The union said Ford members will return to work during the ratification process.
Nearly 30,000 Stellantis and General Motors workers will remain on strike as the UAW’s negotiations with the companies continue.
“Union democracy means members get to review a historic tentative agreement that has gains that they haven’t seen since Walter Reuther,” Brandon Mancilla, UAW Region 9A director, wrote on social media. “It’s still their call on whether this is good enough. That’s what it means for members to both fight and remain the highest authority.”
Ford CEO Jim Farley, whose massive 2022 pay package became a topic of scrutiny during contract negotiations, said late Wednesday that he is “pleased to have reached a tentative agreement” with the UAW, which launched strikes at Ford plants in Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky.
If UAW members approve the contract, low-paid and long-exploited temp workers at Ford will see wage increases of more than 150% over the course of the four-year agreement, the union said. Some workers will see an immediate 85% raise if the contract is ratified.
The tentative deal also improves retirement benefits and eliminates wage tiers that left newer workers with lower pay and worse benefits. Additionally, according to UAW leaders, the agreement “includes a historic right to strike over plant closures, a first for the union.”
“When workers fight back against corporate greed, they win,” Sanders said. “It’s time for Stellantis and GM to get serious and negotiate a fair contract for their workers. The American people are watching.”
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