UAW leaders push Ford deal as GM talks drag on

DETROIT, Oct 29 (Reuters) – United Auto Workers President Sean Fine met local union leaders at Ford ( FN ) on Sunday afternoon to begin the process of ratifying a new contract, while bargaining at General Motors ( GM.N ) continues. Fallback Saturday.

Fein ordered a walkout at GM’s Spring Hill, Tennessee engine and assembly plant on Saturday, criticizing management’s “unnecessary and reckless refusal to come to a reasonable agreement.”

It’s unclear what derailed GM and the UAW’s progress toward a deal forged after earlier deals at Ford and Chrysler-owner Stellantis ( STLAM.MI ). Those deals gave workers a record 25% pay raise over the 4-1/2-year contract and allowed automakers to restart their profitable truck assembly lines.

Ford’s UAW contract includes a $5,000 approval bonus, special retirement incentive packages and a faster path to full-time status and higher union pay for newly hired temporary workers, according to a summary document seen by Reuters. Workers also receive a $1,500 voucher toward the purchase of a vehicle and higher company contributions toward retirement benefits.

Existing Ford temporary workers immediately become permanent employees with a path to higher wages within three years, and the deal paves the way for unionization by workers at joint ventures, battery plants and Ford’s electric vehicle complex in Blue Oval, Tennessee. A master deal, sources told Reuters.

Shares of GM and Ford have fallen by roughly a fifth since the strike began on September 15. Stellantis shares were down just 1%.

GM said he was disappointed by the UAW’s decision to strike Spring Hill.

The Spring Hill walkout could halt production of GM’s large pickup and assembly of other popular GM vehicles. The company announced last week that the ripple effects of the extended Spring Hill strike cost GM the standoff at more than $400 million a week.

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UAW consultant Benjamin Dichter posted Sunday morning on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter: “All my homies hate companies that won’t agree to fair contracts for their workers.” He later deleted the post.

GM is now the only Detroit automaker without a deal. Stellandis reached an agreement with the UAW on Saturday and Ford on Wednesday.

United Auto Workers union president Shawn Fine joins picketing UAW members at the Ford Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, U.S. on September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Get license rights

Progress on resolving the dispute between the UAW and GM could slow on Sunday, as Fein is scheduled to attend meetings with Ford local officials in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and give a video announcement on the Ford deal at 7pm ET (2300 GMT). .

Union leaders then attend regional meetings to explain the contracts to members, who then vote on whether to ratify it.

UAW leaders can no longer take endorsement votes for granted. Last month, UAW workers at Mack Truck’s U.S. operations overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposed by Fein, while Mack said Thursday that no new negotiations were planned. In 2015, UAW members, now known as Stellandis, rejected a contract approved by union leadership.

Fein said on Saturday that local union leaders at Stellandis plants will come to Detroit on Nov. 2 for a contract sent to members for ratification.

A large checkbook

Fine has been particularly harsh on Ford over contract negotiations, despite the automaker having developed a collaborative relationship with the UAW in the past.

At one point, he told Ford chief executive Jim Farley to “get a big checkbook,” declaring that “the days of UAW and Ford fighting other companies are over.”

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In addition to the general wage increase, Fine said Ford’s lowest-paid temporary workers will enjoy a raise of more than 150% during the contract period, and employees will reach higher wages after three years. The union also won the right to strike over future plant closures.

The UAW succeeded in eliminating lower wage floors for workers in some parts operations at Ford — an issue highlighted from the beginning of the bargaining process.

The Ford deal would replace concessions the union had agreed to in a series of contracts since 2007 when GM and the former Chrysler were sliding toward bankruptcy.

“We told Ford to pony up and they did,” Fine said in a video post last week.

Reporting by Joe White in Detroit and David Shepherdson in Washington; Written by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Lisa Schumacher and Deepa Babington

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

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