DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday it has reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford that could be a breakthrough toward ending the nearly 6-week-old strikes against Detroit automakers.
The four-year deal, which still has to be approved by 57,000 union members at the company, could bring a close to the union’s series of strikes at targeted factories run by Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis.
The Ford deal could set the pattern for agreements with the other two automakers, although no other agreements were announced.
The union called on all workers at Ford to return to their jobs and said that will put pressure on GM and Stellantis to bargain.
“We told Ford to pony up, and they did,” President Shawn Fain said in a video address to members. “We won things no one thought possible.” He added that Ford put 50% more money on the table than it did before the strike started on Sept. 15.
UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, the chief negotiator with Ford, said workers will get a 25% general wage increase, plus cost of living raises that will put the pay increase over 30%, to above $40 per hour.
Previously Ford, Stellantis and General Motors had all offered 23% pay increases.
Typically, during past auto strikes, a UAW deal with one automaker has led the other companies to match it with their own settlements.
Browning said temporary workers will get more in wage increases than they have over the past 22 years combined. Temporary workers will get raises over 150% and retirees will get annual bonuses, he said.
Fain said that the union’s national leadership council of local union presidents and bargaining chairs will travel Sunday to Detroit, where they’ll get a presentation on the agreement and vote on whether to recommend it to members. Sunday evening the union will host a Facebook Live video appearance and regional meetings to explain the deal to members.
Workers with pensions also will see increases for when they retire, and those hired after 2007 with 401(k) plans will get large increases, Browning said.
For the first time, the union will have the right to go on strike over company plans to close factories, Browning said.
“That means they can’t keep devastating our communities and closing plants with no consequences,” he said. “Together we have made history.”
Ford said it is pleased to have reached the deal, and said it would focus on restarting the huge Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville as well as the Chicago Assembly Plant. The Louisville plant alone employs 8,700 workers and makes high profit heavy duty F-Series pickup trucks and big truck-based SUVs.
In all, 20,000 workers will be coming back on the job and shipping the company’s full lineup of vehicles to customers, the company said.
Ford’s statement made no mention of the cost of the contract. Company executives said last week they were at the limit of what they could pay while still being able to invest in new vehicles and the transition from internal combustion to electric vehicles.
The agreement is subject to ratification by Ford’s UAW-represented employees. Consistent with the ratification process, the UAW will share details with its membership.
“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,” Fain said.