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First Ford plant workers who went on strike approve new contract

Union members at the Michigan assembly plant voted 81% in favor of approving a new contract. Voting will continue through Nov. 17.
First Ford plant workers who went on strike approve new contract
Posted at 1:41 PM, Nov 02, 2023

Autoworkers at the first Ford factory to go on strike have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a tentative contract agreement reached with the company.

Members of Local 900 at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, west of Detroit voted 81% in favor of the four year-and-eight month deal, according to Facebook postings by local members on Thursday.

Two union officials confirmed the accuracy of the percentage Thursday. Neither wanted to be identified because the vote totals had not been made public.

About 3,300 United Auto Workers union members went on strike at the plant Sept. 15 after the union's contract with Ford expired. They remained on the picket lines until Oct. 25, when the union announced the tentative deal with Ford.

Production workers voted 81% to ratify the deal, while skilled trades workers voted 90% in favor. Voting at Ford will continue through Nov. 17.

Local union leaders from across the country at Jeep maker Stellantis are meeting in Detroit Thursday to get an explanation of the company's tentative agreement from UAW President Shawn Fain and Vice President Rich Boyer. If they endorse the contract, Fain and Boyer will explain it to members in an online presentation Thursday evening.

General Motors local leaders will meet on Friday, with another contract explanation likely on Friday evening. Dates for voting at GM or Stellantis were not yet clear.

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Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who follows labor issues, said the vote at the Ford factory is a positive sign for the union. “These workers are deeply in the know about the overall situation,” he said. “I think that they responded to it with such high levels of approval it is perhaps reflective of how the broader workforce represented by the UAW feels about this contract.”

Masters says union officials still have to make their cases to the membership, but “certainly this would appear to be a harbinger of good news.”

The deals with all three companies are generally the same, although there are some differences. All give workers 25% general pay raises with 11% upon ratification. With cost of living pay, the raises will exceed 30% by the time the contracts end on April 30, 2028.

Workers began their strikes with targeted walkouts at all three automakers that escalated during a six-week period in an effort to pressure the companies into a deal. GM was the last company to settle early Sunday morning.

At its peak 46,000 union members had gone on strike at eight assembly plants and 38 parts warehouses across the nation. The union has about 146,000 members at all three of the Detroit auto companies.

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