Oct 25, 2023 - Economy

Ford and UAW reach tentative labor deal that would end strike at automaker

United Auto Workers members strike at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant on September 16, 2023 in Wayne, Michigan. This is the first time in history that the UAW is striking all three of the Big Three auto makers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, at the same time.

United Auto Workers members striking at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in September in Wayne, Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The United Auto Workers union and Ford reached a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday night that would end almost six weeks of strike action against the automaker.

The big picture: The tentative agreement, announced by the union and Ford, still needs to be ratified by some 57,000 UAW members at Ford.

  • It could also set a pattern for agreements at Stellantis and General Motors, where UAW members have also been on strike at select plants.

Yes, but: There's no guarantee the UAW members at Ford will ratify the deal because despite the huge raises, UAW president Shawn Fain has raised expectations about restoring benefits such as full pensions and implementing a 32-hour workweek.

Details: The gains in the deal "are valued at more than four times the gains from the 2019 contract, and provide more in base wage increases than Ford workers have received in the past 22 years," per a UAW statement emailed on Wednesday night.

  • "The agreement grants 25% in base wage increases through April 2028, and will cumulatively raise the top wage by over 30% to more than $40 an hour, and raise the starting wage by 68%, to over $28 an hour," it added.
  • "The lowest-paid workers at Ford will see a raise of more than 150% over the life of the agreement, with some workers receiving an immediate 85% increase immediately upon ratification."
  • The agreement reinstates major benefits "lost during the Great Recession," including cost-of-living allowances 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," the UAW notes.

What they're saying: "We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with the UAW covering our U.S. operations," Ford CEO and president Jim Farley said in an emailed statement on Wednesday night.

  • "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."

Meanwhile, President Biden, whose pro-union position collided with his push for electric vehicles, in a statement Wednesday evening welcomed the tentative deal:

  • "This tentative agreement is a testament to the power of employers and employees coming together to work out their differences at the bargaining table in a manner that helps businesses succeed while helping workers secure pay and benefits they can raise a family on and retire with dignity and respect."

What to watch: The settlement with Ford could bring a swift agreement between the UAW and Detroit's other two automakers.

  • "We are working constructively with the UAW to reach a tentative agreement as soon as possible," GM said in a statement Wednesday evening, shortly after the Ford deal was announced.

Flashback... Ford executive: "We have reached our limit" on UAW strike offer

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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