DETROIT (AP) — 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 82% in favor of the four year-and-eight month deal, the United Auto Workers union said in a statement Thursday. The union said 3,097 workers voted in favor and 683 were against the contract.
Production workers voted 81% to ratify the deal, while skilled trades workers voted 90% in favor. Voting by Ford’s 57,000 union members will continue through Nov. 17.
Workers went on strike at the assembly 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.
Local union leaders from across the country at Jeep maker Stellantis voted unanimously on Thursday to send the contract to members for a vote. General Motors local leaders will meet on Friday. Dates for member voting at GM or Stellantis were not yet clear.
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 hired after 2009 without defined benefit pensions will get 10% annual company contributions to 401(k) plans, and they’ll get $5,000 ratification bonuses.
On Thursday night, Fain and Vice President Rich Boyer told workers in an online presentation that the union’s strikes got every last dime possible out of Stellantis.
The top assembly plant wage at the company will go from $31.77 per hour to $42.24 by the end of the contract, Boyer said.
The union said it saved jobs at a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that Stellantis wanted to close. Plus, workers at a new joint-venture electric vehicle battery factory planned for Belvidere will be Stellantis employees and leased to the joint venture, Fain said.
Workers at the plant will be under the UAW national contract and will make over $30 per hour by the end of the contract, with the chance to bargain for more later, Fain said.
Fain said terrified auto executives at nonunion plants are raising wages, citing an increase this week at Toyota factories in an effort to keep the UAW from organizing their plants.
“Even though you’re not yet members of our union,” Fain said to Toyota workers, “that pay raise Toyota is giving you is the UAW bump. UAW, that stands for ‘You Are Welcome.’”
UAW 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.
This story has been corrected to show that 82% of workers at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant voted in favor of the tentative contract agreement, not 81%.