by Ebony JJ Curry
UAW President Shawn Fain, supported by a backdrop of UAW negotiators, announced via Facebook Live on Sunday, “I wholeheartedly endorse the tentative agreement we reached with Ford Motor Co. last week,” encouraging the 57,000 union-represented Ford workers to ratify the contract.
The momentous deal, struck between UAW and Ford on the previous Wednesday, stipulates a 25% wage increment for Ford autoworkers across the 4.5-year contract span. Additional benefits encompass a reinstatement of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), enhancements in work conditions, and retirement. Every worker, inclusive of temporary staff, is slated to gain a $5,000 ratification bonus.
Fain, addressing his livestream audience and flanked by Chuck Browning, the UAW vice president spearheading the discussions with Ford, declared, “This contract illustrates the profound power wielded by workers unafraid to harness it.” With the entire negotiation team from Ford as his backdrop, he asserted, “We all wholeheartedly endorse this contract.”
Yet, Fain also communicated to UAW members, “Regardless of your decision, this contract symbolizes a monumental triumph. The economy has sidelined us for far too long, catering primarily to billionaires. This isn’t merely a contract; it’s a clarion call to every worker to mobilize and advocate for enhanced living standards. The onus of salvaging the American Dream doesn’t lie with billionaires but with the working class. And UAW is at the forefront of this crusade.” It’s noteworthy that Fain’s proclamation succeeded a preliminary accord the union finalized with Stellantis, which echoes many elements of the Ford agreement. The solitary exception was GM, which, after enduring a 45-day strike and prolonged negotiation stints, had yet to conclude an accord.
On Sunday, without referencing the Stellantis agreement or the ongoing GM talks, Fain mentioned that the UAW National Ford Council members had convened earlier in Detroit to endorse the preliminary contract. He pledged that the UAW would unveil the deal specifics — termed a highlighter — that very night. The subsequent week would witness regional meetings where union leaders would be briefed, which would be relayed to their members in subsequent sessions to deliberate the contract’s contents. Fain, however, didn’t specify a voting date. Browning, reflecting on his seven negotiation experiences, remarked, “This Ford agreement is unparalleled. Our relentless efforts bore unprecedented results.”
A key demand was extending the contract to conclude on April 30, 2028. Fain noted, “This enables us to strike on May Day or International Workers Day – a day historically significant for the 1889 movement advocating an 8-hour workday. We urge unions nationwide to synchronize their contract end dates with ours.”
Highlighting the union’s aspirations post-negotiation, Fain said, “Our paramount objective is unparalleled unionization,” with ambitions to integrate more automakers into the UAW fold.
The Ford agreement predominantly emphasizes a 25 percent salary hike during the contract’s tenure. It further offers a $1,500 car purchase voucher, pledges to focus on electric vehicles, and assures that upcoming Ford battery plants will adhere to the primary contract.
Fain confirmed, “Upon immediate ratification, everyone will witness an 11% salary surge.” He elaborated on wage structures for new recruits and temporary staff, concluding with the promise of profit-sharing checks from the subsequent year.
Negotiations with GM persisted on Sunday. This was especially significant as UAW unexpectedly initiated a strike the prior Saturday at a crucial GM facility in Tennessee, intensifying the pressure for both parties to finalize an agreement. It’s worth noting that the UAW’s targeted Stand Up Strike commenced on Sept. 15. As Ford and Stellantis employees gear up to review their tentative contracts, GM continues to face strikes at several of its facilities.
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