UAW, Ford Reach Tentative Agreement; Biden Applauds ‘Hard Fought’ Contract

Andrew Moran
By Andrew Moran
October 25, 2023US News
UAW, Ford Reach Tentative Agreement; Biden Applauds ‘Hard Fought’ Contract
Supporters and workers cheer as United Auto Workers members go on strike at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., on Sept. 15, 2023. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union and Ford Motor have reached a tentative agreement that could end a nearly six-week strike at the Big Three automaker.

During a video published online on Oct. 25, UAW President Shawn Fain announced that a tentative deal had been made. The deal features a 25 percent general wage hike over the terms of the contract. In addition to the across-the-board pay increase, UAW secured a 150 percent raise for current Ford temps through the 2023 agreement, a 33 percent top wage increase, and a three-year wage progression.

Additionally, Ford agreed to reinstate cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), the right to strike over plant closures, and kill “divisive” wage tiers.

“I want to be clear: we told Ford to pony up, and they did,” Mr. Fain said. “We won things nobody thought was possible.”

According to the union, the value of gains in the tentative agreement is worth four times more than that in the 2019 agreement. Plus, the UAW purported that the 2023 arrangement offers more in raises than the past 22 years combined.

The new deal, the UAW chief says, paves a path to improve conditions for workers at Ford, the Detroit Three, and the entire auto industry.

“Together, we are turning the tide for the working class in this country,” he added. “We’ll move forward together.  As a united UAW, back in the fight to save the American dream.”

Industry observers note that the UAW’s tentative agreement summary omits future wages and unionization at any of the Big Three’s electric vehicle battery factories they are constructing with Asian companies.

The tentative deal now requires approval by local UAW leaders and then ratified by a majority of Ford’s 57,000 union-represented employees. Mr. Fain confirmed the organization will host a Facebook Live briefing and informational meetings to discuss the agreement.

Ford will begin restarting production at the Chicago Assembly Plant, the Kentucky Truck Plant, and the Michigan Assembly Plant, where nearly 17,000 workers walked off the job and hit the picket lines. The roughly 3,000 temporarily laid-off employees are also expected to return to work.

In the meantime, UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who led contract negotiations with Ford, noted during the online announcement that autoworkers currently on strike at Ford will return to work during the approval process.

Ford stock rose close to 2 percent in after-hours trading to $11.54. It had finished the trading session up 1.32 percent.

But while operations normalize at Ford, the union’s strike at General Motors and Stellantis will continue.

“We’re going back to work at Ford to keep the pressure on Stellantis and GM,” said Mr. Browning. “The last thing they want is Ford to get back to full capacity while they mess around and lag.”

This leaves approximately 28,000 autoworkers at GM and Stellantis still on strike.

Biden: ‘Hard Fought’ Negotiation

President Joe Biden applauded the news, saying in a statement that the agreement is the result of a “hard fought, good faith negotiation” between both sides.

“This tentative agreement provides a record raise to auto workers who have sacrificed so much to ensure our iconic Big Three companies can still lead the world in quality and innovation,” President Biden said. “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.”

Last month, President Biden visited striking autoworkers in Michigan to show his support for the union.

The Epoch Times reached out to Ford for comment.

Billions Lost

It is estimated that the UAW strike against the Big Three has so far resulted in more than $9 billion in economic losses for the automobile industry, according to estimates from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG).

In the breakdown, the strike has cost workers $488 million in lost wages, dealers and customers are collectively out $1.86 billion, and suppliers have endured a $2.78 billion hit.

“The cost of this strike is now double that of the 2019 UAW strike against General Motors, with significant layoffs among supplier firms. Lost wages of striking workers and those laid off because of the strike are nearing a half billion dollars,” said Patrick Anderson, the head of AEG, in an analysis note.

The loss projections do not include plant closures or layoffs that took effect on or after Oct. 20. They also do not consist of unemployment benefits, income taxes on wages, or reputational damage to the union or employers.

The implications for the broader economy are unclear, with economists noting that the UAW work stoppage has impacted a small percentage of the labor force and has been contained to the auto sector.

From The Epoch Times

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