It's a good contract, you just can't get around that," said one UAW local president. "You look at the investment we got in 2019 compared to now, it's not rocket science. It's just better."
As voting wrapped up on Friday, United Auto Workers members at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis were all on track to approve contracts finalized during a six-week UAW strike demanding improved pay, benefits, and working conditions from the "Big Three."
The union's online trackers had the ratification vote results as 68.2% to 31.8% at Ford, 54.7% to 45.3% at GM, and 69.6% to 30.4% at Stellantis as of press time. The UAW and companies have not yet commented on the results.
The UAW launched its "Stand Up Strike" in mid-September, and increased walkouts at various U.S. locations throughout the talks. Rutgers University labor studies professor Rebecca Givan toldThe New York Times that the strategy "really upended a lot of conventional wisdom" in the labor movement and helped reverse some concessions the union had previously accepted, showing that "if workers build enough power, they can win things back."
The pending agreements, which were reached over a few days at the end of last month, don't deliver on all worker demands but celebrated provisions include 25% wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments through April 30, 2028.
Workers at Ford's Dearborn, Michigan, truck plant voted 78% in favor of ratifying the agreement Friday, putting Ford over the top, according to UAW Local 600 President Nick Kottalis.
"It's a good contract, you just can't get around that," Kottalis said. "You look at the investment we got in 2019 compared to now, it's not rocket science. It's just better."
The contracts' expiration date sets up a possible mass action around International Workers' Day on May 1, 2028. The UAW said last month that "we invite unions around the country to align your contract expirations with our own so that together we can begin to flex our collective muscles."
Also framing the Big Three battle as part of a bigger effort, UAW president Shawn Fain declared last month that "if we are going to truly take on the billionaire class and rebuild the economy so that it starts to work for the benefit of the many and not the few, then it's important that we not only strike, but that we strike together."
Fain on Tuesday testified at U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) hearing about how unions raise up working families and take on corporate greed. The UAW leader stressed the "essential role" of federal lawmakers, calling on them to not only support "our fights and other fights like ours," but also "finish the job for economic and social justice for the entire working class."
Already, the historic Big Three deals are leading to "UAW bumps" at other automakers including Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, and Toyota. The union is also aiming to help organize workers at Telsa, the electric vehicle company of billionaire Elon Musk.
Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden, who is seeking reelection next year, became the first sitting president to join striking workers on a picket line in late September, when he rallied with UAW members outside a GM plant in Belleville, Michigan.
The Biden campaign's Ammar Moussa said in a statement Friday that "Joe Biden isn't just saying that he'll always have workers' backs—he's proving it. After President Biden made history by standing with striking autoworkers, unions have notched historic wins and even nonunionized auto companies are taking note, increasing workers' wages.
"This is what happens when you have a president who cares about working people," added Moussa. "Workers win."