UAW workers ratify contracts with the Big Three automakers, ensuring record wage increases

UAW workers ratify contracts with the Big Three automakers, ensuring record wage increases

The UAW said its members ratified new contracts with all three major automakers, resulting in at least a 25 percent raise over 4 1/2 years and additional benefits that represent one of the labor movement’s biggest victories in decades.

The union’s new president, Sean Fine, said the UAW will now turn its attention to trying to unify the American auto sector beyond GM, Ford and Stellantis, as well as other industries.

“The stand-up strike was just the beginning. The UAW is back setting the standards. Now, we’re taking our strike muscle and fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to the millions of non-union workers who are ready to stand up and fight for a better way of life,” Fine said in a statement Monday.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the contracts among workers at Ford and Stellantis, but it was closer for GM union workers. Five large General Motors plants voted against the deal last week, with some veteran workers voicing opposition to getting a smaller raise compared to others.

The contracts come after a long period of worker wages not keeping up with inflation, and after the union gave up some of its benefits around the time of the Great Recession, when automakers were struggling to survive. The union was able to restore many of those concessions in the new deals, including restoring regular wage adjustments in the cost of living to compensate for inflation. It struggled to reopen a large Stellantis plant in Belvidere, Illinois.

Some workers said they were disappointed that the union could not persuade automakers to restore defined-benefit pensions and retiree health care to all workers. But the contracts boost company contributions to 401(k) accounts to the equivalent of 10 percent of a worker’s pay. It also provides more paid time off and gives workers the right to strike any plant closures during the term of the contract — a right the UAW considers important for protecting jobs.

The UAW’s gains come amid a year of increased strike action and workplace activism that helped workers in several U.S. industries win lucrative new contracts. Fueled by a tight labor market, two years of high inflation, and renewed enthusiasm for unions, workers are striking in high numbers this year and reaping big gains for their wallets.

A common theme across the strikes was the push to raise wages for the lowest-paid workers at each company. The UAW deals won raises of at least 25 percent for the highest-paid workers, to more than $40 an hour, and gains of up to 160 percent for the lowest-paid workers, who will also reach more than $40 an hour by the end of the year. Contract.

UPS employees threatened a nationwide shutdown and won their strongest contract in decades this summer, prompting the company to eliminate a tier of low-wage workers and secure 48 percent raises for part-time workers over five years. About 75,000 health care workers at Kaiser received a significant pay increase, while striking Hollywood actors won the largest minimum wage increase in forty years.

The UAW began its strike in a targeted manner on September 15, initially closing only one plant at each company. The outage has expanded over time to include dozens of auto parts warehouses and several additional plants, including critical plants that make some of the companies’ most profitable pickup trucks and SUVs.

Ford CEO Jim Farley welcomed the certification, saying the automaker is “thrilled for the more than 57,000 employees represented in the UAW and their families.” Ford believes in rewarding all of our employees and growing America’s middle class – and we’ve shown it through our actions for many years.

Farley said Ford is on track to reach full production again at its plants in the coming days and will have to find ways to cut costs to offset higher employment. “The reality is that this labor agreement has added significant cost, and we will have to work hard on productivity and efficiency to become more competitive,” he said.

Mark Stewart, CEO of Stellantis North America, said the company will turn its attention to launching eight new electric vehicles in the United States next year.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the deal “rewards our employees, protects the future of the company and allows us to continue providing good jobs in communities across the United States.”

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