UAW members ratify Big Three deals that ended 2023 auto strike

64% of autoworkers vote to approve contracts

File - United Auto Workers members picket at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – Unionized autoworkers across the United States have voted to approve the tentative contracts with Detroit’s Big Three automakers that ended a weekslong strike amid an unusual negotiation season.

The United Auto Workers union announced Monday, Nov. 20 that the majority of its members at Ford Motor Company, Stellantis and General Motors have voted to ratify four-and-a-half-year contract agreements that both sides declare “historic.” The deals, reached at the end of October, are similar among each of the Big Three, though each contract contains a few different components. The contracts include more than 20% wage increases, cost of living adjustments, retiree bonuses, shortening the time to reach top wages, and more benefits.

Last week, it seemed UAW workers at GM could potentially vote down their tentative agreement, despite the majority of members at Ford and Stellantis voting in favor of their deals. However, GM workers narrowly voted in favor of the agreement, according to final tallies reported last week. Final votes were cast at the remaining Ford and Stellantis local offices in the days to follow, and members ultimately approved all three of the deals.

UAW officials said Monday that across all three carmakers, 64% of members voted in favor of ratifying the deals, officially ending a six-week strike amid a tense and unusual negotiation season. The strikes, which involved over 40,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 autoworkers, were suspended after the tentative agreements were reached, but before they were ratified.

“We are pleased our team members have ratified the new agreement that rewards our employees, protects the future of the business and allows us to continue to provide good jobs in communities across the U.S.,” GM CEO Mary Barra said.

Now, the new union contracts will take effect for all UAW autoworkers, and will expire in mid-2028 -- but UAW President Shawn Fain isn’t stopping there. The new aggressive and outspoken union leader is setting his sights on other, non-unionized carmakers, and at other industries in which UAW members work.

Throughout the weekslong auto strike, Fain maintained that the effort was meant to benefit both the autoworkers and other middle-class workers outside of the industry. After finding success in his hands-on, boisterous and marketed approach to bargaining and striking, Fain has expressed interest in adding workers at Toyota -- the world’s top-selling automaker -- and workers in other industries to the union and its self-declared “fight” against the billionaire class.

“The members have spoken. After years of cutbacks, months of our Stand Up campaign, and weeks on the picket line, we have turned the tide for the American autoworker,” Fain said in a statement Monday. “The Stand Up Strike was just the beginning. The UAW is back to setting the standard. Now, we take our strike muscle and our fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to millions of non-union workers ready to Stand Up and fight for a better way of life.”

Details about each of the Big Three deals can be found on the UAW’s website here.

“We are pleased the agreement has been ratified and we are very happy for our more than 57,000 UAW-represented employees and their families. Ford believes in rewarding all of our people and growing the middle class in America – and we have shown that with our actions over many years.

"Now, we are getting back to work as one Ford team. Thankfully, we are on track to reach full production schedules in the coming days at our assembly plants in Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois that were affected during the strike. I’m excited to personally get out to as many of our plants and operations as possible in the coming weeks and months to spend time with our teams who build our vehicles.

"Ford is America’s No. 1 brand again and we want to build on that in 2024. We are entering one of our biggest-ever new product launch years in the U.S. We need to deliver these new vehicles on time and with top quality. This is critical!! I am talking about new Ranger and Ranger Raptor. New F-150 and F-150 Raptor. New Expedition. New Explorer. New Lincoln Navigator and new Lincoln Aviator. All told, we are refreshing about half of our U.S. volume in 2024. We are also working flat out on our next generation of electric vehicles and software platforms.

"It’s also imperative that we continue to attack cost and waste throughout our operations. The reality is that this labor agreement added significant cost, and we are going to have to work very hard on productivity and efficiency to become more competitive."

Ford President and CEO Jim Farley

More UAW strike coverage here

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.