57,000 US auto workers win tentative agreement with Ford

Historic tentative agreement has workers standing to win more in raises than they’ve received in that past 22 years

October 26, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Members of UAW Local 862 Ford Kentucky Truck Plant have been on strike up until recently (Photo: UAW)

On October 25, United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders announced that Ford, among the three largest automakers in the US, had capitulated and reached a “historic” tentative agreement with the union. With the new TA, 57,000 workers at Ford stand to win more in raises than they have received in the past 22 years. In addition, according to the union, workers have won the cost of living allowances (COLA) that union leadership had given up during the 2009 Great Recession, a three-year wage progression, an end to divisive wage tiers at the Sterling Axle and Rawsonville plants, better retirement benefits, and the right to strike over plant closures.

According to UAW leaders, the gains from this TA are valued at over four times the gains from the previous Ford contract in 2019. The TA provides a 25% increase in base wages through April 2028. The agreement raises the top wage at Ford by over 30%—to more than USD 40 per hour. For starting wages, the agreement raises them by 28% to over USD 28 per hour. Temporary workers, the lowest paid workers at Ford, are not left out, and shall see wages increase by over 150% over the span of the agreement.

“Thanks to the power of our members on the picket line and the threat of more strikes to come, we have won the most lucrative agreement per member since Walter Reuther was president,” said UAW vice president Chuck Browning in a video announcing the TA.

This comes amid major escalations in UAW’s ongoing “Stand Up Strike” against Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors. The union has been strategically calling auto plants on strike incrementally, depending on the status of negotiations, giving negotiators maximum flexibility and leverage. The tentative agreement was reached on day 40 of the strike.

Union leaders claim that this victory is due to the successful escalation of the stand up strike. “We knew we were getting close,” said UAW President Shawn Fain in announcing the TA on Wednesday night. “But we also knew that companies needed a major push if we were going to make sure we got every penny possible in this agreement.”

On Monday, October 23, UAW called on the Sterling Heights Assembly plant to strike, Stellantis’ biggest and most profitable plant. The very next day, UAW struck GM’s biggest and most profitable plant, Arlington Assembly. 

Ford knew that they were next, claims Fain. “That was checkmate,” Fain said, and the day following the start of the Arlington Assembly strike, Ford caved to union demands. 

On October 29, the union’s nation Ford Council will vote on whether to send the tentative agreement to membership for final ratification. Local leaders will then assemble regionally to talk through the TA with membership. Then, members will get the final say and vote on whether or not to ratify the agreement. 

Workers striking at plants belonging to Stellantis and GM will still remain on the picket line until tentative agreements are reached with those two companies.