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labor UAW President Shawn Fain: We’ve Reached a Tentative Deal With Ford After 41 Days on Strike

Top UAW officials told local union leaders Wednesday evening by phone that the union has a potential deal with Ford Motor Co. to end the strike.

Top UAW officials told local union leaders Wednesday evening by phone that the union has a potential deal with Ford Motor Co. to end the strike against the automaker, the Detroit Free Press confirmed.

UAW President Shawn Fain and UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who led negotiations with Ford, posted a 10-minute video on X at 8:27 p.m. to make the news official.

"The Stand Up Strike is working," Fain said on the video posted on the site formerly known as Twitter. By closing down additional plants at Stellantis and GM this week, “Ford knew what was coming for them Wednesday, if we didn’t get a deal. That was checkmate.”

The tentative agreement includes an 11% wage increase the first year and totals 25% over a 4.5-year contract, plus a $5,000 ratification bonus and cost-of-living adjustments, according to two sources familiar with the deal but not authorized to speak publicly.

Additional details of the tentative agreement were not immediately available, but negotiators for the United Auto Workers union and Ford had a good meeting on Wednesday afternoon, sources told the Free Press.

Any potential deal between the union and the automaker is subject to review by local union leaders from around the country elected by the members, called the UAW National Ford Council, who will travel to Detroit prior to a ratification vote. The UAW said the meeting would happen on Sunday, and they would vote to send the tentative agreement to members. If that goes as planned, the UAW will host a special Facebook Live to go through the deal in detail with membership, Fain said.

Local officials will hold meetings and work to answer questions, Fain said on the video. “After that, it will be up to the members to vote on the deal.”

Browning, a longtime UAW member and negotiator, said, “Our union has united in ways we haven’t seen in years.”

He added, “Thanks to the power of our members on the picket line and the threat of more strikes to come, we have won the most lucrative agreement, per member, since Walter Reuther was president.”

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Ford employs an estimated 57,000 hourly workers represented by the UAW, the largest employer of U.S. union workers in the auto industry.

A Ford deal would include cost-of-living pay increases that could lift the total pay raises above 30%, according to confidential sources credited by the Associated Press. In addition, workers would still receive annual profit-sharing checks.

A tentative agreement comes after a 41-day strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Fain said Ford workers will be asked to return to work as soon as possible.

The strike would continue against General Motors and Stellantis, as those companies and the UAW had yet to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Charmaine Sanderfield, a Ford assembly worker at the Michigan Assembly Plant who has walked the picket line in Wayne since the start of the strike, texted the Free Press, "God is good. Now let's get back to work!"

In recent weeks, the UAW has had members ratify a contract with General Dynamics while rejecting a tentative agreement with Mack Trucks.

In 2019, the UAW went on a 40-day strike against GM and announced ratificationwith a 57% to 43% vote on Oct. 25, 2019. The contract representing some 46,000 workers was decided by 23,389 "yes" votes and 17,501 "no" votes.

Live reaction from the Ford strike line

A light drizzle fell outside Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant on Wednesday night, and pickets stood with UAW signs wrapped in plastic to keep them dry.

News of the tentative agreement was welcomed, even without all of the details.

James Wright, 38, of Brownstown, said he’s ready to get back to work. Strike pay of $500 a week doesn’t go far enough.

He’s looking forward to a “pay increase for sure.”

With a 25% wage increase over the life of the contract, as the Free Press has been told, Wright said he’d “be able to afford milk, groceries and gas.”

Whitney Majzoub, 48, of Wayne, said she has 25 years in and she’s “fine with what she’s heard” in terms of what’s in the agreement.

Majzoub is a team leader on the door line and three members of her family all work at the plant, including her son, who has three years in, and her children’s father. Majzoub said she and her son both think the agreement will pass.

Even though much of the early reporting about the talks focused on a higher wage increase, Majzoub indicated negotiations aren’t an all-or-nothing situation.

“You aim high, you meet in the middle,” she said, noting that she bought a new house last year and wasn’t expecting to be out on strike.

Mark Webster, 50, of Jackson, a team leader in the body shop, called word of a tentative agreement “great news.”

“It should pass,” he said, echoing Majzoub in saying that he hopes workers will be allowed to return to work soon.

Webster highlighted a wage increase and benefits for retirees as some of the key additions he’s looking for from an agreement.

Kevin Stimac, 42, of Linden, said he’s ready to get back to work as well.

“Family and $500 a week doesn’t cut it,” he said, noting that for him, a wage increase is good, but he’s looking for job security in light of the uncertainty over the electric vehicle transition.

Stimac agreed the deal should pass, noting that he doesn’t believe the union would bring something to members that would get “shot down.”

As for the union’s strategy in these talks, Stimac said “it sounds like it’s effective” with the union getting workers “closer to where the union wants us to be.”

GM, Stellantis to face pressure?

Bishop Chris Martin, pastor of the Cathedral of Faith Church on Dupont Road in Flint, counseled parish members on strike at the Flint Assembly Plant in 2019 and he is counseling them again now as they watch from the sidelines. The local plant builds the highly profitable Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

A tentative agreement between the UAW and Ford is very good for GM workers, he said. Taking down the highly profitable Kentucky Truck Plant earlier this month clearly got Ford’s attention, said Martin, who spoke to union leaders Wednesday night.

“GM may be more acclimated to move if Ford moves. Ford is definitely a catalyst. We’ve always said GM plays off of Ford,” he said. “GM will get off the fence. And Stellantis will have to collapse under the pressure.”

Meanwhile, philanthropists and other Flint community leaders have urged the UAW to spare Flint Assembly as a strike target because it would devastate the entire area financially, Martin said.

Details are key

The plan for strategic strike targets definitely has moved negotiations, said labor affairs expert Marick Masters, a professor at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

And choosing to expand the strike to include additional GM and Stellantis factories this week clearly had an impact on negotiations, said Marick Masters. “Obviously, the devil is always in the details. But they — the UAW and Ford — have found common ground after this difficult struggle. The UAW must believe they have a good contract and union leaders must believe it can get it ratified. I hope that the other two companies will be able to come to agreement with the union as well."

Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University in Buffalo, New York, told the Free Press that the tentative agreement indicates Ford will set the Detroit Three pattern.

"Ford has been leading these negotiations ... most of the way," he said. "Fingers crossed, the strikes end and get back to work inside instead of picketing outside in November."