United Auto Workers and Ford reach tentative contract agreement

The prospective deal includes cost-of-living adjustments and a 25% pay increase over the four-and-a-half-year life of the contract.

A person holds up a sign that says "Detroit is a union town" on Sept. 15, 2023, in Wayne, Mich.

A person holds up a sign that says "Detroit is a union town" on Sept. 15, 2023, in Wayne, Mich.

The United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Company have reached a tentative deal on a new union contract.  It’s the first such agreement reached with a Detroit automaker during this round of bargaining talks.

It comes on day 40 of the union strike – the exact number of days it took for the UAW to ratify a contract with General Motors in 2019. However, it will still take a little time to finalize this Ford deal.

UAW leaders will be in Detroit on Sunday to review the contract and decide whether to send it to a member vote. If that happens, represented Ford members can expect a chance to ratify it sometime next week.

Listen: Ford and the UAW reach tentative contract.

What the contract includes

The deal includes a 25% wage increase over the life of the agreement and a three-year progression to top pay, which UAW leaders say will be set at about $40 an hour. Ford employees would receive an immediate 11% pay raise upon ratification.

It also includes the return of Cost of Living Adjustments — something the union gave up more than a decade ago when Detroit’s automakers hit financial trouble.

Bargaining teams also made gains on job security. UAW Vice President Chuck Browning says the union will have the right to strike over plant closures for the first time in its history.

“For decades that was an impossible demand,” said Browning. “That means they can’t keep devastating our communities and closing plants with no consequences.”

Browning said the prospective deal includes wins on retirement benefits. Union members should expect more details on what those look like in the coming days.

What to make of the strike

The United Auto Workers has unleashed a new strike tactic during this round of negotiations. Historically, the union has picketed against one Detroit automaker first and used an agreement with them as a template for deals with the rest.

This time the union is striking all three car companies at the same time – adding additional walkouts as talks progressed.  UAW President Shawn Fain says that tactic is paying off.

“Ford put 50% more on the table than when we walked out,” said Fain. “This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three and across the auto industry.”

With the Ford agreement now going through the ratification process, union bargaining teams will be focused on securing contracts with Ford and General Motors.

What state leaders are saying

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she welcomes the tentative agreement between the UAW and Ford, adding the terms of the deal are positive for the state economy.

“There is a lot riding on these negotiations,” said Whitmer. “We are in a fierce competition with the rest of the world for the future of manufacturing — and all eyes are on Michigan.”

Whitmer says she believes Michigan can be an example for other nations when it comes to bringing jobs back from overseas.

Sandy Baruah is president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.  He says the tentative agreement is good news and hopes it’s a positive sign for other companies.

“This strike has gone on for far too long, especially considering the Detroit Three have essentially agreed to the UAW demands,” Baruah said. “The short and long-term damage [of the strike] is now what the companies and communities will have to begin to address.”

Editor’s note: Some employees of WDET are members of UAW Local 1979 — a different bargaining group that’s unaffected by these negotiations.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.