UAW contract breakdown: Here’s what union members are getting

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Experts break down the UAW’s tentative agreements with the Big Three

Experts break down the UAW’s tentative agreements with the Big Three 05:45

The United Auto Workers late Monday formally ended their six-week strike against Detroit’s Big 3 automakers, with union leaders saying they have inked tentative labor agreements with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

Labor experts described the enhanced pay and benefits that all three companies are offering as a victory for the UAW and its 146,000 workers. Although union chief Shawn Fain didn’t deliver on all of his demands, which included a 32-hour week, the UAW’s hardball tactics appear to have paid off, said Lynne Vincent, a business management professor at Syracuse University.

“The UAW’s strategy to negotiate with and strike at the three automakers simultaneously paid off with seemingly strong agreements at all three organizations,” she said.

Although the agreements differ at the margins, workers at each of the automakers will receive the same top-line benefits including the right to strike over plant closures and additional benefits to retirees. Details on the terms for employees at Stellantis (owner of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram) and GM have yet to be released, but here’s a snapshot of what unionized autoworkers are expected to get under the new labor deals.  

Wage hikes

Workers at all Big 3 automakers will see a 25% increase in their hourly pay across the four-and-half years of the contract. In their previous contract, which ran between 2019 and 2023, workers at the Big 3 received a 6% wage increase every year. 

Under their deal, Ford and Stellantis employees will see an immediate 11% increase in their pay.  Hourly pay at Ford will jump from $32.05 to $42.60 for assembly-line workers and from $36.96 to $50.57 for skilled trades employees, according to the preliminary contract

GM employees are also getting a 25% hike, lifting the top wage to more than $42 an hour including the COLA. The starting wage will jump to over $30 including the cost of living bump. 

Cost of living adjustments

Employees at the Big 3 will receive regular cost of living adjustments along with wage increases. At Ford, the increase will be based on a three-month average of changes in the consumer price index, with workers set to receive their first COLA payment in December. Specifics on GM and Stellantis’ COLA payments were not released Monday, but they are likely to be similar. 

The automakers stopped offering COLAs in 2007 to save cash as the companies ran into financial headwinds shortly before the housing crash.

Faster path to top wages

Newly hired factory workers at the Big 3 will start earning the companies’ top wage more quickly. At Ford, GM and Stellantis, for example, full-time employees will make the top pay after three years on the job. Under the previous contracts, it took workers eight years to reach the highest tier. 

Two-tier wage system eliminated

The UAW was able to convince automakers to abolish the two-tier wage system they adopted in 2007 as the companies were struggling financially — a key demand given that employees hired after that year could earn less than half for doing the same job than their longer-tenured coworkers. 

Khristopher J. Brooks

Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.

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