A UAW striking worker leaves a union rally on Friday in downtown Detroit as North American International Auto Show charity fundraiser participants prepare to enter Huntington Place site. | Ken Coleman
Some United Auto Workers (UAW) affected by the nearly seven-week strike against the Detroit Three automakers have begun the voting process to sound off on the set of tentative agreements with Ford Motor Co., Stellantis and General Motors.
The highlights of the tentative agreements include a 25% wage increase through April 2028 and an end to tiered compensation, where workers with lesser seniority earn significantly reduced pay than more senior tenured employees.
The “Stand Up Strike” began on Sept.15 against all three automakers, but not all workers hit the picket line. Instead, UAW leadership called up workers at plants at various points to walk out as part of its strategy to win back many of the concessions the union had made in recent decades.
The strike grew to include plants in more than 20 states, including more than a dozen facilities in Michigan, more than any other state.
Michigan automotive facilities that were on strike
Michigan Assembly Plant, Wayne
Stellantis plant and auto supplier locations:
Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, Sterling Heights
Centerline Packaging, Center Line
Centerline Warehouse, Center Line
Warren Parts, Warren
QEC, Auburn Hills
GM plant and auto supplier locations:
Pontiac Redistribution, Pontiac
Willow Run Redistribution, Belleville
Ypsilanti Processing Center, Ypsilanti
Davidson Road Processing Center, Burton
Flint Processing Center, Swartz Creek
Lansing Redistribution, Lansing
Delta Township Assembly, Lansing
During the impasse, the general community and union locals sought help striking workers who were receiving only $500 per week from their strike fund.
Political leaders from Michigan and across the country hit the picket line or attended rallies in Michigan to support striking UAW workers, including President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.).
UAW members at the first Ford factory to go on strike have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a tentative contract agreement reached with the company.
Members of Local 900 at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, west of Detroit, voted 82% in favor of the four year-and-eight month deal, according to the UAW.
The ratification results at Local 900 were 3,087 for the agreement and 683 against.
“The agreement reinstates major benefits lost during the Great Recession, including Cost-of-Living Allowances (COLA) and a three-year Wage Progression, as well as killing divisive wage tiers in the union. It improves retirement for current retirees, those workers with pensions, and those who have 401(k) plans,” according to a UAW news release. “It also includes a historic right to strike over plant closures, a first for the union.”
UAW presentations to Stellantis, GM
As part of the union’s ratification process, the UAW Stellantis National Council met Thursday in Detroit to review their agreement. And the UAW GM National Council met in Detroit on Friday to review that deal.
“After each meeting, the union will make a presentation to members on Facebook detailing the highlights of each contract,” according to the UAW statement.
Fain outlined details to Stellantis workers on Thursday evening through a Facebook Live address, just as he did with Ford workers on Sunday.
UAW President Shawn Fain said to Stellantis members, “Our union just showed the world what’s possible when workers unite and fight for more.”
“This is the most lucrative contract that we have won in decades,” said Fain.
Fain also made a pitch to launch organizing drives at Toyota, Tesla and other nonunion U.S. auto factories.
“We can beat anybody. It’s gonna come down to the people that work for him (Musk)deciding if they want their fair share… or if they want him to fly himself to outer space at their expense. I believe it’s doable,” Fain said through an X, formerly Twitter, UAW post on Friday. He was referring to Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO.
Fain and Vice President Mike Booth addressed members on Saturday via Facebook Live to offer highlights of the union’s tentative agreement with GM.
“This contract will change thousands of lives overnight,” Fain said.
Fain and Booth lifted up the importance of “wins” in the areas of COLA, end of tier-based compensation, and money for retirees.
“Retirement insecurity is one of the greatest economic injustices facing our country and our membership,” said Booth.
The tentative agreement calls for the first bonus for retirees in 17 years, Booth said. “Under this agreement, current retirees and surviving spouses will receive five payments of $500 annually,” Booth added.
Fain also pushed back on media reports that suggest that the strike will cause an increase in auto prices.
“Car prices are way up but it’s not because of worker wages, low inventory, or anything but corporate greed,” Fain said toward the end of the 20-minute presentation.
What UAW rank-and-file members think
The Advance followed up with two UAW strikers who were interviewed last month for stories about their views on the tentative agreements.
Ray Crawford, a striking 24-year employee at Stellantis’ Mopar Center Line Parts Center, told the Advance that he wants to learn more about the tentative agreement.
“I would like to know a little more. I need to see what’s in there,” said Crawford.
Breonna Green, a UAW member and Stellantis employee, also reserved judgment until hearing more details.
Meanwhile, during the strike other union locals and the general community have reached out to assist striking workers. For example, Cutter’s Bar & Grill, located in Detroit’s Eastern Market district, offered striking UAW workers a 10% reduction from their bill to help offset expenses.
“All of us at Cutter’s Bar & Grill recognize that many of our loyal customers have been impacted by inequalities in the workplace and the UAW strike, said Charles Nolen, owner. “To show our solidarity with and support to union members, we offered a 10% discount off their bill. Union members and leadership have supported us for 19 years, now it’s our turn to support them!”
UAW Local 160 in Warren, which represents General Motors Tech Center workers, originally wanted to carry out a spaghetti fundraiser for Detroit Three striking members. After the tentative settlements, the local on Friday changed its focus to providing aid to striking UAW Blue Cross Blue Shield workers, who remain on the picket line.
Sean Crawford, a Local 160 member, believes that the GM tentative agreement is a good one for union colleagues and wanted to participate in the fundraiser because he was a GM employee on strike during the 40-day walkout against the automaker in 2019.
“As far as the TA [tentative agreement] is concerned, I’m feeling really inspired,” said Crawford, who has been a UAW member since 2008 and not directly impacted by the strike. “The workers were empowered by the ‘Stand Up Strike.’ I think that it was a dynamic and creative strike that allowed the UAW to hit the company where it hurts.”
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