Oct. 15, 2023
The striking United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co., UAW President Shawn Fain announced Wednesday evening.
“Our stand up strike has delivered,” Fain told members during a Facebook video at about 8:30 p.m.
The tentative deal is the first step toward ending the historic strike that started Sept. 15 against the Detroit-area legacy automakers: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
The strike started with a walkout at one plant from each automaker, but spread over weeks to reach more than 50,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 national members working in the auto plants.
Earlier this week, Fain called two more plants to walk out: Stellantis’ Sterling (Heights) Assembly Plant in Michigan and GM’s Arlington Assembly Plant.
“We knew we were getting close, but we also knew the companies needed a major push if we were going to get every penny in this process,” Fain said Wednesday.
Among the provisions in the tentative deal with Ford is overall wage increases of 25 percent, the union was told. The deal was struck hours before the automaker releases its third-quarter earnings report on Thursday.
Union demands have included a wage increase, an end to the two-tier wage system started during the Great Recession, improved retirement benefits and cost of living adjustments. The UAW also seeks what it calls a “just transition” with union wages offered when automakers increase electric vehicle production.
Reaction to the deal was swift in Michigan, where concerns have been mounting over economic losses spreading. By Monday, reports indicated that after five weeks, the strike had cost the U.S. about $9.3 billion in economic activity.
“There is a lot riding on these negotiations,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “We are in a fierce competition with the rest of the world for the future of manufacturing.”
She continued: “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.”
Sandy K. Baruah, president of the Detroit Regional Chamber, also called the deal good news and potentially a positive sign for the other two automakers still in negotiations.
“This strike has gone on for far too long,” Baruah said. “The short- and long- term damage is now what the companies and communities will have to begin to address.”
During negotiations, all three automakers have warned that long-term profitability and viability could be hurt if labor costs go too high. GM tapped the brakes on some of its EV production plans, including slowing construction at Orion Assembly in Oakland County, and Ford paused its plans to build an EV battery plant in Marshall.
The union countered that by pointing to recent record-making profits among the three.
The UAW National Ford Council will come to Detroit on Sunday to vote on whether to send the contract on to membership for a vote. If so, Fain said contract details will be available to members Sunday night via Facebook. Members then will vote, after a series of information sessions.