UAW clinches record Detroit deals, turns to organizing Tesla, foreign automakers

Nov 20 (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers (UAW) said Monday that 64% of workers at the Detroit Three automakers voted to ratify new record contracts after a six-week targeted strike, as the union turns its attention to organizing foreign-owned and Tesla auto plants.

The votes lock in the UAW’s tentative agreements with the automakers through April 2028, which include a 25% increase in base wages and will cumulatively raise the top wage by 33%, compounded with estimated cost-of-living adjustments to over $42 an hour.

It also cut the number of years needed to get to top pay from eight years to three years, will boost the pay of temporary workers by 150% and make them permanent employees and includes significant retirement improvements.

The UAW for decades has unsuccessfully sought to organize auto factories operated by foreign automakers. In recent weeks, Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), Toyota Motor (7203.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T) have all announced they would hike U.S. factory wages after the UAW contract.

UAW President Shawn Fain was in Washington last week to hold meetings to discuss the union’s organizing strategy and is expected to outline more details in the weeks to come.

“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,” Fain said Monday.

He told Reuters last week that the UAW was getting expressions of interest in organizing from many Tesla (TSLA.O) workers. “Workers at Tesla, Toyota, Honda, and others are not the enemy – they’re the UAW members of the future.”

Votes in favor of the agreement from workers at some parts and components operations who stand to get substantial raises as they move to higher pay classifications outweighed votes against the contract from some veteran workers.

Automakers, looking to trim costs as they make the shift to electric vehicles, face higher hourly labor costs.

Ford (F.N) has estimated the new contract will add $850 to $900 in labor costs per vehicle.

“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,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said Monday.

About 55% of votes cast by General Motors (GM.N) members were in favor of the new deal, while about 69% of Ford members and 68% of worker at Chrylser parent Stellantis (STLAM.MI) who voted supported the agreement.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the deal “protects the future of the business and allows us to continue to provide good jobs in communities across the U.S.” GM manufacturing chief Gerald Johnson said “we will work aggressive schedules for the good of our customers.”

Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart said the company will now “focus our full attention on executing” its 2030 strategic plan that includes launching eight new electric vehicles in 2024.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Shivansh Tiwary; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Sriraj Kalluvila and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Joe White is a global automotive correspondent for Reuters, based in Detroit. Joe covers a wide range of auto and transport industry subjects, writes The Auto File, a three-times weekly newsletter about the global auto industry. Joe joined Reuters in January 2015 as the transportation editor leading coverage of planes, trains and automobiles, and later became global automotive editor. Previously, he served as the global automotive editor of the Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw coverage of the auto industry and ran the Detroit bureau. Joe is co-author (with Paul Ingrassia) of Comeback: The Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry, and he and Paul shared the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting in 1993.

Read More: UAW clinches record Detroit deals, turns to organizing Tesla, foreign automakers

2023-11-20 16:40:00

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