UAW workers on strike
The United Auto Workers called off its six-week strike last week after union leaders reached a tentative labor agreement with General Motors — the last of the Detroit Big 3 car manufacturers to strike a deal with the union.
“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 X (formerly Twitter), while stopping short of saying when striking employees will return to work.
The GM deal features a 25% wage increase across a four-and-a-half year deal with cost of living adjustments, the UAW said. Employees from GM’s parts distributors, car care facilities and a plant in Brownstown, Michigan, also will be removed from the two-tier wage system.
The deal also brings employees from GM’s manufacturing subsidiary, GM Subsystems, and Ultium Cells — a battery joint venture with LG Energy Solution in Ohio — under the UAW national contract.
The tentative agreement with GM, which still needs to be ratified, mirrors a tentative agreement UAW leaders reached last week with Ford and Stellantis. GM confirmed the pact on Monday, saying the terms will still allow the company to provide good jobs.
“We are looking forward to having everyone back to work across all of our operations, delivering great products for our customers and winning as one team,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.
The deal came only one day after GM workers expanded their strike by walking out of a company factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, that employs nearly 4,000 and that produces Cadillac and GMC SUVs. Spring Hill joined about 14,000 other GM workers who were already striking at company factories in Texas, Michigan and Missouri.
President Biden said the GM deal attests to the power of unions and collective bargaining. “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,” Mr. 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.”
GM was the last of the Big 3 to ink a deal with the UAW.
“In a twist on the phrase ‘collective bargaining,’ the UAW’s strategy to negotiate with and strike at the three automakers simultaneously paid off with seemingly strong agreements at all three organizations,” Lynne Vincent, a business management professor at Syracuse University and labor expert, told CBS MoneyWatch. “Once a deal was reached at Ford, the UAW could use that agreement as the pattern for the other two automakers, which gave the UAW leverage to apply pressure on the automakers.”
Mike Huerta, president of UAW Local 602 in Lansing, Michigan, was hesitant to celebrate the deal before seeing more information, saying that “the devil’s in the details.” “Our bargainers did their job,” he said. “They’re going to present us with something and then we get to tell them it was good enough or it wasn’t.”
The UAW launched its historic strike — the first time the labor group has targeted the Big Three simultaneously — last month when thousands of workers walked off the job after their contracts with the automakers expired on Sept. 14.
The union’s initial demands included a 36% wage hike over four years; annual cost-of-living adjustments; pension benefits for all employees; greater job security; and a faster path to full-time status for temporary workers.
At the peak, about 46,000 UAW workers were on strike — about one-third of the union’s 146,000 members at all three companies. Thousands of GM employees joined the work stoppage in recent weeks, including about 5,000 in Arlington, Texas, the company’s largest factory.
GM and the other automakers responded to the strike by laying off hundreds of unionized, non-striking workers. GM laid off roughly 2,500 employees across Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, New York and Ohio, according to a company tally. It’s unclear if GM will invite those employees back to work if the new UAW contract is finalized.
The union’s work stoppage intensified at a time when the Big 3 is looking establish dominance in the burgeoning electric vehicle. The companies’ biggest competitors in the EV space are Tesla and overseas automakers like Hyundai and Toyota, which don’t employ unionized workers. Electric vehicles will constitute half of all auto sales worldwide by 2035, according to a Goldman Sachs estimate.
In the aftermath of the agreement, Toyota of America, which is not unionized, agreed to raise the hourly pay of its workers by $2.49 an hour. Toyota also shortened the time from eight years to four years for a worker to get to the top of the pay scale.
The UAW strike caused an estimated $4.2 billion in losses to the Big 3 and resulted in $488 million in lost wages for workers. The work stoppage also rippled and caused layoffs at auto supplier companies. But the dispute also led to breakthroughs, with GM earlier this month agreeing to place its electric vehicle battery plants under a national contract with the UAW. —The Associated Press contributed to this report.
UAW workers on strike