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  • Nicolas Robichaux

UAW’s Ford Contract and its Future



On October 25, 2023, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union reached an agreement with Ford, concluding their six-week strike against the cooperation. The UAW Union Vice President, Chuck Browning, expressed that the deal with Ford included a historic 25 percent increase in the workers’ wages, which is a 16 percent difference from Ford’s initial offer of only nine percent. Additionally, the agreement would shorten the progression of workers' wages from eight years to three years, and Ford would provide billions of dollars for new investments. Ford’s agreement noticeably excluded the demands for a 40 percent increase in workers’ general wages, the call for a 32-hour work week, and pensions for all workers


UAW leadership remained satisfied as the Union successfully negotiated monumental improvements for workers through their strikers' consistency in protesting and leaders' ability to reach an agreement through their negotiation skills. The UAW union’s President, Shawn Fain, said, “This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three, and across the auto industry. Together, we are turning the tide for the working class in this country.” 


For Michigan Ford plant workers, this deal between Ford and the UAW union will allow families to have additional income and time to spend time with their children. Dave and Bailey Hodge, who work in the Wayne, Michigan plant, explained, “It will be great just doing some overtime, not overtime all the time. And we’ll start doing things with the kids. Maybe take them to a hotel that has a swimming pool. That would be nice.” This sentiment is shared by the majority of Ford plant workers in Michigan: 81 percent of production workers voted in support of the new deal, in addition to 90 percent of skilled trade workers on November 17, 2023.


However, this overwhelming support was an anomaly as not all plant workers were so accepting of Ford's deal. The Torrence Avenue Assemble Chicago plant barely passed when only 57 percent voted in the affirmative. Several plants even outright rejected Ford’s agreement, including General Motors' Flint Assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, where 52 percent voted against the deal, and Lansing’s General Motors Delta plant, which opposed Ford’s agreement by 61 percent.


Simultaneously, the workers at the plant in Louisville, Kentucky, rejected Ford’s contract, with 54.5 percent of voters declining the offer. The UAW Local 862 union - the local chapter representing the Louisville area - is notorious for not accepting agreements. An employee of eight years at the plant stated, “I was really interested in the 25% raise, of course, and the benefits that we get, that’s going to increase our cost of living throughout the year to year and keep us up with what the economy is doing, what inflation is doing.” However, the UAW Local 862 Union President, Todd Dunn, was shocked at the workers’ decision to reject the agreement and the low turnout for the vote. Todd Dunn explains, “I would've thought more members would have come just because they engaged in the process; they saw what their leverage did, but old habits are hard to break.”


Although multiple chapters have voted to reject Ford’s agreement, it does not mean the United Auto Workers (UAW) union will not ratify the deal. If a simple majority of the workers vote for Ford’s agreement, the deal becomes ratified. However, if the majority of automotive workers decide not to ratify the agreement, then UAW union leaders will have to resume negotiations with Ford and determine if their strike should continue. Several UAW union members have expressed that Ford’s deal did not achieve enough of the Union’s demands, especially for more senior members who had already reached the height of their pay and have expressed since 2007 that they would like to have a 401(k) plan option available to them. Additionally, workers wanted the deal to provide healthcare benefits for retired workers because many workers have to leave their jobs before they are eligible for Medicare, which the UAW leadership forfeited in the Ford agreement.


Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, expressed that the original demands were unrealistic as it would result in the cooperation going bankrupt, especially the demand for a 40 percent increase in the workers’ wages. The UAW Union President, Shawn Fain, began to echo Farley’s message after the wave of chapters rejected the Ford deal by explaining that the agreement and negotiations have already achieved everything the company can realistically afford. As various UAW Union chapters continue to hold votes about the Ford agreement, their votes will determine if the deal becomes ratified or if the UAW strikes will continue. 


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