Autoworkers reach a deal with Ford, a breakthrough toward ending strikes against Detroit automakers
The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday night it has reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford that could be a breakthrough toward ending the nearly 6-week-old strikes against Detroit automakers.
The four-year deal, which still has to be approved by 57,000 union members at the company, could bring a close to the union’s series of strikes at targeted factories run by Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis.
The Ford deal could set the pattern for agreements with the other two automakers, although no other agreements were announced.
Ford Motor Co. confirmed the deal.
"We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with the UAW covering our U.S. operations," said Ford CEO and President Jim Farley. "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 agreement is subject to ratification by Ford’s UAW-represented employees. Consistent with the ratification process, the UAW will share details with its membership.
The union called on all workers at Ford to return to their jobs and said that will put pressure on GM and Stellantis to bargain.
“We told Ford to pony up, and they did,” President Shawn Fain said in a video address to members. “We won things no one thought possible.” He added that Ford put 50% more money on the table than it did before the strike started on Sept. 15.
Vice President Chuck Browning, the chief negotiator with Ford, said workers will get a 25% general wage increase, plus cost of living raises that will put the pay increase over 30%, to above $40 per hour.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer congratulated both sides on reaching a deal. “I want to congratulate the UAW and Ford for reaching an historic deal that benefits our world-class autoworkers and helps this world-class automaker succeed. This agreement will put more money into the pockets of hardworking Michiganders while ensuring the company can continue to grow and invest right here in Michigan," Whitmer said.
The progress in the negotiations came after the union this week walked out at three factories that produce highly profitable pickup trucks and SUVs, adding them to the list of plants already on strike in a strategy to intensify pressure on the companies.
On Tuesday, about 5,000 workers at GM’s assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, walked out, halting production of truck-based SUVs that are huge profit makers for the company. A day earlier, the UAW’s president, Shawn Fain, had added 6,800 employees at Stellantis’ Ram pickup plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Two weeks ago the union struck Ford’s largest and most profitable factory, the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, where 8,700 workers make heavy-duty F-Series pickups and two large SUVs.
In all, about 46,000 workers have walked out at factories owned by the three companies in a series of targeted strikes that began Sept. 15. About 32% of the union’s 146,000 members at the automakers are now on strike and getting by on $500 per week in strike pay. The automakers have been laying off workers at other plants as parts shortages have cascaded through their manufacturing systems.