UAW settles with the ‘big three’ in the US

In the USA, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has ended its strikes against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis after six weeks, having reached preliminary agreements with all three car manufacturers. These primarily provide for significantly higher wages.

The strikes, which have been going on since mid-September, have ended for the time being with the agreement, but are not yet completely off the table: because so far all three manufacturers have only reached preliminary agreements, which now still have to be converted into binding contracts. As things stand, a renewed dispute in this process is unlikely, but still possible.

In the negotiations, the union had initially demanded a wage increase of more than 40 per cent. The UAW was not able to push through this figure, but with an agreed increase in the basic wage of around 25 per cent by April 2028, as well as even greater increases in the top and entry-level wage, a significant increase in income for the employees was agreed. According to the UAW, in the case of GM, it is the largest base wage increase in 22 years. Since the exact percentages vary between GM, Stellantis and Ford, we have not included all the negotiated details in this article. You can find the exact deals in the notices linked below.

In the case of General Motors, the UAW was also able to negotiate that the Ultium Cells battery cell joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution be included in the national UAW contract. In other words, workers at the Ultium Cells plants will in future be paid according to the GM conditions negotiated by the UAW. Previously, Ultium Cells workers had received lower wages.

GM, Stellantis and Ford now face high additional costs for their US staff, but in the wake of inflation, the cost of living in the US has risen sharply, while the corporations have raked in high profits. However, the weeks of strikes with their successive expansion to other plants (including the high-margin SUV plants) have also led to high costs. At GM, the most recent strike was at the plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee – where other SUV models from Cadillac and GMC are built in addition to the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV. In addition, plans for several model launches were postponed.

GM had already indicated last week that future investment planning would have to be reconsidered. The record wage settlements that were already in the offing at the time will probably result in cost-cutting measures in other areas – in investments in plants, model planning and also technical details. The next generation Chevrolet Bolt, for example, is expected to get LFP batteries to cut costs.

“Now that we have a groundbreaking tentative agreement at GM, we’re officially suspending our stand-up strike against each of the Big 3,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video message posted on social media. Since the UAW had been striking all three major US manufacturers at the same time, the negotiations also had national significance.

As a result, US President Joe Biden also commented on the agreement. “This historic tentative agreement rewards the autoworkers who have sacrificed so much with the record raises, more paid leave, greater retirement security, and more rights and respect at work,” Biden said in a statement. “I want to applaud the UAW and GM for agreeing to immediately bring back all of the GM workers who have been walking the picket line on behalf of their UAW brothers and sisters.” The US President had sided with the workers early on. (GM), (Stellantis), (Ford)


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