Now that it appears the United Auto Workers has a tentative agreement with each of the Detroit 3 — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis — the next question (beyond restarting production at plants where workers went on strike) is both big and complicated. Namely, what will this mean in the long run?
Precise details of the proposed contracts are still leaking out, but in general, UAW members will see 25 percent increases in pay over four years, a resumption of cost of living adjustments that were cut during the Great Recession and an end to tier systems that meant new employees received lower pay for the same work. Obviously, those benefits will play a role in future union negotiations at supplier companies, while even non-union workers will look to boost their pay based on the OEM numbers.
The Chicago area also will be a big beneficiary. Stellantis has pledged to reopen its Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant, the site of 5,000 jobs. (Stellantis plants in Trenton, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio, also are being preserved.) Ford said it will put $400 million into its Chicago assembly plant, part of an $8 billion investment at U.S. factories.
"In the early days of this strike, [UAW President Shawn] Fain struck me as a guy who was a fantastic poker player," Editor Don Loepp wrote in a blog post on Oct. 27. "It looks like he won this hand, using rolling strikes effectively to keep the OEMs off their game."
Michael Martinez from our sister paper Automotive News agrees.
"We'll see in the coming weeks if Fain overplayed his hand and raised member expectations too high," he wrote. "If the historic deals fall apart, he may have only himself to blame."