The United Auto Workers union members have ratified new contracts with each of the Big Three automakers, including raises ranging from 33% to 160% over the next four-and-a-half years.
After the historic “Stand Up Strike,” UAW members at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis have locked in “record gains” with 64% of voting members favoring each of the agreements, UAW said on Monday.
“The members have spoken,” said UAW President Shawn Fain, in a Nov. 20 news release. “After years of cutbacks, months of our Stand Up campaign, and weeks on the picket line, we have turned the tide for the American autoworker. The Stand Up Strike was just the beginning. The UAW is back to setting the standard. Now, we take our strike muscle and our fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to millions of non-union workers ready to Stand Up and fight for a better way of life.”
The 150,000 UAW autoworkers at the Big Three will now receive cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), annual bonuses for retirees, and elimination of wage tiers.
Other provisions include, according to UAW:
- “Raises from at least 33% to over 160% – Over the life of the agreement, members will see raises of at least 33%, after COLA and compounded wage increases, ranging up to over 160% for some of the lowest-paid workers. Tens of thousands of autoworkers will see immediate raises of over 40% upon ratification.
- “Faster Progression to Top Pay – Three-year wage progression to the top pay rate, down from eight years. This restores the progression in place before the 2011 contract.
- “Reopening Belvidere, Reinvesting in America – Stellantis agreed to reopen an assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois [that] it shuttered in February and committed to build a $3.2 billion battery plant there, employing more than 1,000 union workers. The company was slated to shed more than 5,000 U.S. hourly jobs when bargaining began. It is now on track to add more than 5,000.
- “Blazing the Path to a Just EV Transition – The UAW won commitments at all three automakers that will bring thousands of electric vehicle (EV) and battery jobs under the union’s national agreements.
- “Improvements in Retirement Security for All Active and Retired Members – Current retirees will receive annual bonuses for the first time in 15 years, a $1.25 billion boost in their benefits. That is a $1 billion dollars more than the union won for retirees in the last four contracts combined. At all three companies, workers hired before 2007 won an increase to their pension multiplier for the first time in over 15 years. Though the union did not win back defined benefit pensions for post-2007 hires, the employer contribution to their 401(k)s is massively boosted to 10%, which will more than double many members’ annual 401(k) contributions over the life of the contract.”
All six agreements – one hourly employee agreement and one salaried agreement from each of the three companies – were ratified. The results and relevant materials for the Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis contracts can be found online.
The deal is dubbed historic in a joint letter written by UAW President Shawn Fain and UAW Ford Department Vice President Chuck Browning.
“We set out to do many things that we were told were impossible,” they wrote. “We fought like we’ve never fought before, and we won like we’ve never won since the days of Walter Reuther. We got back COLA [cost of living adjustment]. We brought back a three-year wage progression. We killed the wage tiers at Sterling Axle and Rawsonville.
“The gains in this agreement are worth more than four times the gains in the 2019 contract. In fact, the gains in each individual year of this agreement are worth more than the entirety of the gains in the last contract. The 2023 agreement is worth more than the past four contracts combined. It has more in general wage increases than Ford workers have received in the past 22 years combined.”
On Monday, Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said in a written statement that the company is “pleased the agreement has been ratified.”
“[W]e are very happy for our more than 57,000 UAW-represented employees and their families. Ford believes in rewarding all of our people and growing the middle class in America — and we have shown that with our actions over many years,” Farley wrote. “Ford believes in rewarding all of our people and growing the middle class in America — and we have shown that with our actions over many years. Now, we are getting back to work as one Ford team.
“Thankfully, we are on track to reach full production schedules in the coming days at our assembly plants in Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois that were affected during the strike. I’m excited to personally get out to as many of our plants and operations as possible in the coming weeks and months to spend time with our teams who build our vehicles.”
Farley noted that 2024 is one of Ford’s “biggest-ever” new product launch years in the U.S., calling on-time and top-quality deliveries “critical.”
“It’s also imperative that we continue to attack cost and waste throughout our operations,” he wrote. “The reality is that this labor agreement added significant cost, and we are going to have to work very hard on productivity and efficiency to become more competitive.”
In a short video released Monday, GM Global Manufacturing and Sustainability Executive Vice President Gerald Johnson said the company’s agreement with UAW sets the course for the next four to five years in GM manufacturing.
“It was not easy work but it was important work because it impacts the livelihood of our entire team,” he said. “The end result is an agreement that both rewards our team members, provides great products for our customers, and protects the future of our business. That’s been our goal for the entire time. Our team members deserve the best because they are our competitive advantage.”
Demand for GM products continues to be high so aggressive schedules will be worked “for the good of our customers,” Johnson added.
Stellantis confirmed the ratification of its agreement with UAW on Nov. 18 and released the following statement from Stellantis North America Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart:
“With negotiations now officially behind us, we will focus our full attention on executing our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan and serving our customers by delivering the high quality products and technologies they want and expect, especially as we prepare to launch eight all-new electric vehicles in the U.S. market in 2024.”
Three other automakers are also making changes for their employees. Reuters reported last week that Hyundai said it planned to increase pay 25% for non-union production workers at its Alabama factory by 2028.
Reuters also reports that Honda said it would provide U.S. production workers an 11% pay increase beginning in January and cut the time it takes for factory workers to reach the top wage tier from six years to three.
On Nov. 1, Toyota announced it would raise top-paid U.S. non-union factory employees’ wages by about 9%, effective Jan. 1, according to Reuters.
Featured image: A group of UAW member workers on strike. (Provided by UAW)