The United Auto Workers (UAW) said on Wednesday night that the union has a potential deal with Ford Motor Co. to end the strike against the automaker after 41 days on strike against the Detroit Three — which also includes General Motors and Stellantis.
The agreement includes a 25% wage increase over 4.5 years, starting with an initial pay hike of 11%. UAW members will have to ratify the deal.
“The gains in the deal are valued at more than four times the gains from the 2019 contract,” the union said in a statement.
In a video address by UAW President Shawn Fain and UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, the union leaders gave some details of the agreement, while outlining next steps in the ratification process.
“For months we’ve said that record profits mean record contracts. And UAW family, our Stand Up Strike has delivered. What started at three plants at midnight on Sept. 15, has become a national movement,” said Fain. “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.”=
Ford confirmed the deal in a news statement Wednesday night.
“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with the UAW covering our U.S. operations,” the company said.
“Ford is proud to assemble the most vehicles in America and employ the most hourly autoworkers. We are focused on restarting Kentucky Truck Plant, Michigan Assembly Plant and Chicago Assembly Plant, calling 20,000 Ford employees back to work and shipping our full lineup to our customers again,” the automaker said in a statement. “The agreement is subject to ratification by Ford’s UAW-represented employees. Consistent with the ratification process, the UAW will share details with its membership.”
While Ford did not detail the terms of the tentative agreement, the UAW released some of the terms:
- It provides more in base wage increases than Ford workers have received in the past 22 years.
- The agreement grants 25% in base wage increases through April 2028.
- It cumulatively raises the top wage by over 30% to more than $40 an hour.It raises the starting wage by 68%, to over $28 an hour.
- The lowest-paid workers at Ford will see a raise of more than 150% over the life of the agreement.
- Some workers will receive an immediate 85% increase immediately upon ratification.
- The agreement reinstates major benefits lost during the Great Recession, including Cost-of-Living Allowances (COLA) and a three-year wage progression, as well as killing wage tiers in the union.
- It improves retirement for current retirees, those workers with pensions, and those who have 401(k) plans. It also includes a historic right to strike over plant closures, a first for the union.
UAW Vice President Chuck Browning said the tentative agreement with Ford has historic wins.
“Our union has united in a way we haven’t seen in years. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, our members came together to tell the Big Three with one voice that record profits mean a record contract,” said Browning. “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.”
During a Friday livestream, Fain had detailed the latest proposals at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, highlighting the shortcomings of the latter’s current offer. The union represents about 150,000 members.
The latest picket site on Tuesday at GM’s Arlington Assembly plant in Texas brought the total number of UAW members on strike at the Big Three automakers to more than 45,000.
The UAW remains on strike against GM and Stellantis, but the Ford deal could become the blueprint to settle those contracts.
The strike began on Sept. 15 with a walkout against three assembly plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. It has since grown to include eight assembly plants and 38 parts distribution centers in 22 states.
President Joe Biden in September made a historic visit to the picket line alongside Fain at the Willow Run Redistribution Center in Belleville. He said in a statement Wednesday night that he applauds the “UAW and Ford for coming together after a hard fought, good faith negotiation and reaching a historic tentative agreement tonight.
“This tentative agreement provides a record raise to auto workers who have sacrificed so much to ensure our iconic Big Three companies can still lead the world in quality and innovation. Ultimately, the final word on this contract will be from the UAW members themselves in the days and weeks to come. I’ve always believed the middle class built America and unions built the middle class. That is especially the case for UAW workers who built an iconic American industry,” Biden said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also congratulated the UAW and Ford for reaching an “historic deal that benefits our world-class auto workers and helps this world-class automaker succeed.”
“There is a lot riding on these negotiations,” Whitmer said through a statement. “We are in a fierce competition with the rest of the world for the future of manufacturing — and all eyes are on Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We can be the example to the rest of the nation on how to bring jobs back home from overseas and keep making stuff here in Michigan.
“I hope this momentum will help the UAW and the remaining companies reach an agreement so Michiganders can get back to doing what they do best. Michigan is home to phenomenal companies powered by the best auto workers in the world. Let’s keep it that way,” Whitmer added.
U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) agreed with Whitmer.
“I’m pleased to see that the UAW and Ford have reached a tentative agreement that deals workers in,” Stevens said. “This tentative agreement, if approved by the UAW members, builds towards living wages and fair benefits while making sure we are building the future of mobility right here in America.”
Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story. This story is republished from Michigan Advance, a sister publication of Kentucky Lantern and part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.