The UAW strike against the Big Three Automakers: General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, began on September 15th. After a grueling month and a half, a tentative deal has been made between the United Auto Workers Union and all three of the Detroit Automakers.
UAW Original Auto Bargaining Demands
According to the UAW, members of the United Auto Workers demanded ending tiers, double-digit pay raises across the lifetime of the contract, restoring Cost of Living Standards (COLA), creating well-defined pension benefits, reestablishing medical benefits for retirees, the right to strike over plant closures, establishing a working family protection program, ending the abuse of temp workers, more paid time off, and significantly increasing retiree pay. While not every demand was met, the UAW made history with the terms that were won in these agreements.
Walkouts from the UAW
The United Auto Workers made use of less than half of their 146,000 members to strike targeted plants around North America. Towards the end of October, the UAW expanded their strikes to include a General Motors assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. This move officially halted the operation of three of the world’s most profitable assembly plants. As the effects of the strike became more restrictive, the UAW’s strategy gradually increased automaker pressure.
What Caused the Delay in Reaching a Deal?
After a month of negotiations, a deal still hadn’t been reached between the UAW and the Detroit Three. Automakers were initially concerned that meeting all the UAW’s demands would negatively impact their corporate goals. The UAW’s demands were projected to result in significant annual labor cost increases for each of the companies. Automakers were worried that it put them in a tough competitive setting when it comes to the switch over to electric vehicles and with companies such as Tesla, Toyota, and Honda that are not being asked to meet the UAW demands. Both the automakers and the UAW had conflicting goals that they were trying to reach in the agreement.
Ford, Stellantis, GM, & UAW Tentative Deal
The UAW ended its strike against Ford Motor Co. after 41 days. Automotive News claims the tentative agreement gives an immediate 11% pay raise, totaling 25% in the next four years. It also reinstates COLA standards and offers a three-year path to top wages, among other benefits. The deal awaits approval by the 57,000 Ford union members. With an agreement on the table, Ford is now focusing on getting back to business at their Kentucky, Michigan, and Chicago plants.
Following Ford’s deal, Stellantis and GM quickly followed suit and made similar deals with the UAW. GM workers gained the right to strike over future plant closures and were able to secure improved retirement benefits for workers with retirement plans. The pension benefits were a key point with GM and their high number of retirees. With workers from all three automakers now returning to work, they hope to quickly get back on track after the month and a half long strike.