UAW-Ford workers ratify new contract

  • United Auto Workers members at Ford Motor have ratified a new labor contract.
  • A majority of Ford plants overwhelmingly approved the deal, which, like GM and Stellantis, includes wage increases of at least 25 percent.
  • The contract ratifications come weeks after automakers and the union reached tentative agreements, ending about six weeks of targeted strikes by the UAW.

Members of the United Auto Workers union picket outside the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, September 26, 2023.

Matthew Hatcher | AFP | Getty Images

DETROIT – Union members at Ford Motor approved a tentative agreement Friday, concluding contentious contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit automakers.

UAW-Ford workers were the last of the Detroit automakers to ratify their deal after General Motors workers narrowly approved a deal Thursday and Stellantis workers backed their deal, according to preliminary votes published Friday by the union.

According to the UAW’s vote tracking system, which is not yet finalized, the Ford deal was supported by 68.2 percent of the nearly 35,000 Ford auto workers who voted. There were still a few smaller facilities remaining to finalize the vote, but there are not enough employees at those sites to make up the margin of more than 12,600 votes.

UAW locals representing every Ford plant voted in favor of the deal except a small parts plant in Florida and the automaker’s massive Kentucky truck plant early Friday afternoon. The plant that pushed ratification over the edge was the Dearborn, Mich., truck plant, with about 2,700 members voting in favor of the deal by 78.7 percent, according to the tracker union votes.

Ford and the UAW did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

The contract ratifications come weeks after automakers and the union reached tentative agreements, ending about six weeks of targeted strikes by the UAW. The strikes, which began on September 15, involved targeted work stoppages that spread factory by factory to increase pressure on automakers.

Preliminary results from Stellantis showed support from 68.4% of hourly workers who voted. At GM, the vote returned 54.7% approval.

GM’s vote was closer, in part because of the demographics of the company’s workforce. The automaker has the highest number of traditional workers by percentage compared to its crosstown rivals. These workers expressed their disapproval of the salary increases granted to them by the agreements, compared to those offered to new recruits. They were also unhappy with pension contributions and retirement benefits.

Still, these agreements mark a record for the union, which has been much more confrontational and strategic in negotiations than in recent history, as promised by UAW President Shawn Fain, who began lead the union in March.

They include wage increases of at least 25 percent, the return of cost-of-living adjustments and other economic improvements. The union said improvements to the deal are valued at more than four times the gains in the 2019 contract and provide higher base pay increases than workers have received over the past 22 years.

For the union and Fain, the agreements and associated economic gains contribute to efforts to increase the union’s ranks through the inclusion of future jobs such as these battery plants and unionization at other non-union automakers operating in the United States.

For both companies and their investors, these contracts represent the high end of expected increases in labor costs.

Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said last month that the UAW deal, if ratified by members, would add $850 to $900 in costs per assembled vehicle. He said Ford would work to “find productivity, efficiency and cost reductions across the company” to offset additional costs and achieve previously announced profitability targets.

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