December 6, 2023
GM’s tentative agreement with auto union could signal end of auto strikes

United Auto Workers members at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis ratified a four-and-a-half-year labor contract, the union announced Monday on social media.

Voting took place in all three companies 64% in favorX, according to the Detroit-based union in a post on Twitter.

The new contracts call for a 25% wage increase and the return of cost-of-living adjustments, among other benefits for union members. The results came after concessions in the 2000s when GM and Chrysler (now part of Stellantis) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and were bailed out by the US government.

The new contracts will run until the end of April 2028. Since 1999, the UAW has had a four-year contract with Detroit automakers.

“The members have spoken,” said UAW President Shawn Fenn. In another post on X, “After years of cuts, months of our stand up campaign and weeks on the picket line, we have turned things around for the American autoworker.”

Under Fenn, the UAW simultaneously struck some plants of each of the Big Three automakers. Over time, this added to the operations of the companies’ most profitable factories affected by the walkout. Earlier, unions used to strike in one company at a time.

The term “Stand Up” strike refers to the sit-down strike that the UAW organized to gain recognition by GM in the 1930s. In the early 1940s all major Detroit automakers agreed to recognize the union.

Fenn implemented a more aggressive negotiating stance. Besides leading a simultaneous walkout across companies, the union chief criticized the automakers. At one point, Fenn wore a T-shirt that read, “Eat the Rich.” He also abandoned traditions such as union officials shaking hands with company representatives at the formal beginning of negotiations.

For the union, the talks now completed could be a beginning. Fain has said that the UAW intends to organize the US operations of foreign automakers. Previous attempts at union organizing in such factories had failed. Already, companies like Toyota Motor Corp. have announced wage increases for U.S. production workers.

“When we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it will be not just with the Big Three but with the Big Five or Big Six,” Fenn said on October 28.

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