The employees of Ford have ratified the agreement that ended the strike organized by the UAW.
The new contract between the United Auto Workers union and Ford was overwhelmingly approved. This agreement, along with similar ones made with General Motors and Stellantis, will result in increased pay for workers in the industry. It will also require automakers to cover higher expenses and contribute to the transformation of the auto industry as it moves towards electric vehicles.
Employees of Ford overwhelmingly voted in favor of the agreement with a margin of almost 15,000 votes. The voting concluded early on Saturday. Last week, workers at GM also approved a similar contract, although by a smaller margin. At Stellantis, ratification was supported by 68.7% of workers, with only two small facilities remaining to have their votes counted.
The contracts, set to expire in April 2028, will bring an end to heated negotiations that started last summer and resulted in six-week-long strikes at each of the three automakers. The new UAW leader, Shawn Fain, aggressively portrayed the companies as adversaries of the union and criticized their CEOs for being overpaid, announcing an end to the era of union collaboration with the automakers.
Following unsuccessful negotiations over the summer, Fain initiated strikes on September 15 at a single assembly plant within each company. The union later expanded the strikes to include parts warehouses and additional factories in order to increase pressure on the automakers until tentative agreements were reached in late October.
The recently negotiated contracts were viewed as a success for the UAW, as the companies have committed to significantly increasing wages for experienced assembly line employees. This includes both regular raises and adjustments for inflation, resulting in a potential 33% increase in wages. The top assembly line workers will see an immediate 11% raise and can expect to earn around $42 per hour until the contracts expire in April 2028.
As part of the agreements, the car companies have eliminated their use of various wage categories for employees and have also committed to including new electric car battery factories in the union contract. This presents an opportunity for the UAW to potentially unionize these plants, as they are expected to become more prevalent in the industry.
Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University, believes that the UAW’s success in ratifying all three contracts is a significant achievement. He sees it as a positive development that will benefit numerous autoworkers.
Three nonunion, foreign automakers in the United States — Honda, Toyota and Hyundai — quickly responded to the UAW contract by raising wages for their factory workers. They did so after Fain said the UAW would mount an aggressive effort to unionize their plants. He also said the union would try to recruit workers at Tesla.
International car companies have previously claimed that their employees receive similar wages to those in the UAW, making a union unnecessary. They have also accused the UAW of causing GM and the former Chrysler to go bankrupt in 2009 and of being involved in corrupt activities, as revealed by a federal investigation that uncovered a widespread scandal involving bribery and embezzlement starting in 2017.
According to Wheaton, Fain’s election and the implementation of new contracts have resolved any previous issues or disagreements within the union.
According to the speaker, wages may be similar at nonunion factories, but UAW workers enjoy superior healthcare and retirement benefits. This could be a desirable factor for employees at nonunion facilities as they grow older.
According to Wheaton, agreements with automobile companies should result in increased salaries for employees at auto-parts suppliers and other industries as well.
Mark McGill, a 67-year-old employee at Ford’s assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, stated that the union has gained significant influence due to the agreements made. During the six-week strike at the plant, McGill noticed a shift in attitude among workers, with more people expressing interest in joining the union.