After 41 days of strike among the American manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the automobile union UAW and Ford reached an “agreement in principle” on Wednesday. It was immediately hailed as “historic” by President Joe Biden. “I applaud the UAW and Ford for coming to terms after difficult, good-faith negotiations and for reaching a historic agreement in principle this evening,” said the Étant leader. in a press release of the White House, the seat of the presidency.
The agreement includes a 25% increase in base salary and cost-of-living allowances, the UAW said. It must still be ratified by workers in a vote to take place in the coming weeks. Ford said he was “satisfied” with this result. “We achieved things that no one thought possible,” said Shawn Fain, president of the UAW union. “Since the start of the strike, Ford has put on the table 50% more than when we walked out. This agreement puts us on a new path to turn around the situation at Ford, among the Big Three (Editor’s note: the nickname of the three historic manufacturers) and throughout the automotive industry. »
General Motors and Stellantis now under pressure
The strike, linked to the development of the next collective agreements, mobilized nearly 45,000 employees in total on Tuesday, out of the 146,000 registered at the UAW. “We are focused on restarting the Kentucky Pickup Plant, the Michigan embly Plant and the Chicago embly Plant, getting 20,000 Ford employees back to work and on delivering our full range to our customers,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley.
After an agreement in principle, unions sometimes do not end the strike until it has been ratified by the members. But the UAW announced that Ford workers would return to their jobs to put pressure on General Motors (GM) and Stellantis. “This is a strategic decision aimed at obtaining the best possible agreement,” said Chuck Browning, vice president of the UAW. “The last thing GM and Stellantis want is for Ford to return to full production capacity while they waste time.”
Again on Tuesday, the UAW called on its 5,000 members working at the GM plant in Arlington (Texas) to also strike, after the manufacturer published quarterly results better than expectations. “Another record quarter, another record year. As we have been saying for months: record profits mean record contracts,” commented Shawn Fain.
Increases ranging from 30% to 150%
The tentative contract negotiated with Ford calls for a wage increase slightly lower than the 40 percent that Shawn Fain demanded when the UAW launched the strike on September 15, but it is significantly higher than the 9 percent initially proposed by Ford in August.
“The agreement provides for a 25% increase in base salary until April 2028,” details the union in its press release. “It will result, in total, in an increase of more than 30% in the highest salary, or more than 40 dollars per hour (Editor’s note: around 38 euros)and a 68% increase in starting pay, to more than $28 per hour (Editor’s note: around 26.5 euros) “. “Ford’s lowest paid workers will benefit from an increase of more than 150% over the life of the agreement,” the UAW further notes.
The agreement also removes pay grades that disadvantaged younger employees, improves the pensions of current retirees and guarantees the right to strike in the event of factory closures. “Together, we are turning the tide for the working cl of this country,” said Shawn Fain.