Posted September 2, 2023
The UAW was always very secretive during negotiations, and that even continued during strikes. Members were told the negotiations committee was working hard to get a good contract. Period.
But in the new UAW, members are encouraged to view a weekly update from the President via Facebook. On August 31st, two weeks before the old contract expires, Shawn Fain reported that neither GM nor Stallantis have responded to the union’s demands. He then outlined Ford’s response, which rejected most of the UAW proposals and offered a measly nine percent wage increase over a four-year contract.
The UAW negotiators proposed that workers become full-time after 90 days’ work and receive full health care and retirement benefits. They would receive at least 85% of top pay and be included in profit sharing. Despite the fact that Ford made almost $2 billion in profits last year, management opposed putting any cap on the number of temps hired. “Temporary” workers, who work full-time and all year, have steadily grown as a proportion of the workforce. Management countered with paying “temps” no more than 60% of the top pay, providing them with second-tier health care benefits and excluding them from profit sharing and pensions. Instead of the present eight years it takes for a temporary worker to progress through the steps to earn top pay, Ford would generously cut that to six years.
Instead of the demand for restoring COLA to all workers, Ford countered with a one-time lump sum bonus. This of course doesn’t add anything to base pay as COLA does. While CEOs received a 40% increase in their benefits package, retirees have not received any increase in pension benefits over the last 17 years.
This report stunned many autoworkers for several reasons. We could see how well-prepared and specific the UAW demands were, while Ford’s responses were insulting. The transparency was breath taking. Further, members are no longer being told that a bad deal is “the best we can do given the company’s situation.” We are being told that the companies are making billions and want to increase the amount that stockholders get. All this at the expense of the autoworkers produce the vehicles.
Fain warned the Detroit Three that they have less than two weeks to come up with a reasonable settlement. He has said there is still enough time to negotiate a settlement, but it looks like the corporations aren’t fully aware of how autoworkers are readying for a strike. Fain encouraged the UAW locals to continue their “practice picketing” and other strike-ready actions.