Detroit (Michigan): The six-week old strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is to end shortly with a tentative deal reached between the management of Stellantis, Ford and the labour that grants 25 per cent increase in wages over their four year contract into 2028, media reports said.
“I applaud the UAW and Stellantis for coming together after hard fought, good faith negotiations to reach a historic agreement that will guarantee workers the pay, benefits, dignity and respect they deserve,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday.
The UAW have reached a tentative contract agreement with Stellantis, the union announced on Saturday evening, edging the labor union closer to ending a six-week strike that has dented Detroit’s Big three automakers – GM, Ford and Stellantis idling thousands of their employees, media reports added.
UAW leaders called on thousands of strikers at Stellantis and Ford to withdraw from picket lines and return to work at assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, and at vehicle parts warehouses across the nation. Similar to the Ford workers’ tentative deal, Stellantis’s includes 25 per cent general wage increases over the life of the four-and-a-half-year contract, which runs through April 2028, CBS reported .
“On day 44 of our stand-up strike, I am honoured to announce that our union is again victorious,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video posted on the social media. Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart also confirmed the deal in a statement to CBS News, expecting to “welcoming our 43,000 employees back to work and resuming operations”.
The Stellantis agreement, which owns Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, along with several foreign auto-brands, comes exactly three days after the UAW came to terms with Ford, which now leves General Motors that’s still without a contract with the union, reports said.
UAW in the meantime, within hours of the deal, announced it was expanding its GM strike to the Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant, which employs nearly 4,000 workers, to put pressure on GM to reach its own deal.GM manufactures Cadillac and GMC SUVs in these plants.
“We are disappointed by the UAW’s action in light of the progress we have made,” a GM spokesperson said in a press statement.
“We have continued to bargain in good faith with the UAW, and our goal remains to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”
Top wager-earners will see their earnings grow to more than $42 per hour over thier contract time, the union said, adding the starting wage will increase over that period by over 67 per cent, to over $30 per hour.
The good news for the UAW workers is that Stelantis has also agreed to reopen its Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant, which was idled in February.
UAW Vice President Rich Boyer said that was part of the deal.
“It is with my great honour to announce that we saved Belvidere,” Boyer said.
“From the strength of our stand-up strike, we will bring back thousands of jobs to Belvidere.”
More than 1,000 workers who lost their jobs due to the closure of the Belvidere plants have their jobs back. And along with reopening the Belvidere plant, Stellantis has also agreed to open a new Belvidere battery plant that would create about 1,000 new jobs. Overall, Stellantis agreed to add a total of 5,000 new jobs across the US as part of the deal, the union said.
Talks between Stellantis and the union, which included Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart and UAW President Shawn Fain “went into the late evening” on Friday, sources close to the negotiations told CBS News.
Fain said the UAW Stellantis National Council will now vote on whether to send the tentative deal to members. Meetings will be held next week to explain the details of what is in the contract, before members take a final vote on whether to ratify it.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie A. Su in a statement congratulated “Stellantis and the UAW for their dedication and focus in coming together to reach” a deal.
The UAW’s strike was historic as for the first time the labor targeted all three big auto makers — Ford, GM and Stellantis simultaneously. Thousands of workers walked off the job after their contracts with the automakers expired on September 14.
The union’s demands included a 36 per cent 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.