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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

UAW contracts at Ford, Stellantis near approval by wide margins

UAW President Shawn Fain speaks to the crowd during a rally in Detroit on Sept. 15.  (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg)
By Keith Naughton and Gabrielle Coppola Bloomberg

The United Auto Workers closed in on approval of their contracts with Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV Friday, sealing agreements that will deliver record pay gains and new plant investments.

As of 12:35 p.m. in Detroit, with only a handful of results from Ford locations outstanding, results posted by the union showed the contract being approved 68% to 32%.

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.”

Stellantis’ members were on track to ratify the contract with a margin of at least 68% as of Friday morning, according to Rich Boyer, head of the UAW’s Stellantis department, though he cautioned that the count won’t be official until Sunday, when about 100 workers at a parts depot in Atlanta vote.

The overwhelming approval margins at Ford and Stellantis followed a tighter vote at General Motors Co., where the contract was passed 55% to 45% on Thursday.

The contract runs for four years and eight months and includes a 25% raise and $8.1 billion in factory investments.

Ford has 57,000 UAW members and Stellantis has roughly 43,000, but they don’t all vote.

Workers at Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio, bucked the trend, voting the contract down 55% to 45%.

Toledo members, who were the first wave of strikers when the UAW’s targeted walkouts began Sept. 15, were disappointed Stellantis didn’t restore traditional pensions, unhappy with stricter attendance policies, and anxious about a schedule change that some fear will result in less overtime for full-time workers.

The schedule change will also enable the conversion of about 900 lower-paid temps to full-time status.

The UAW negotiated a $150 million payout from all three automakers to compensate striking workers for lost wages, a deal that will result in Toledo Jeep strikers getting about $7,500 in compensation, in addition to the $5,000 signing bonus, Boyer said.

The margin at Ford was significantly larger than the automaker’s last two UAW contracts, which passed by 55% in 2019 and 51% in 2015.

UAW President Shawn Fain touted record gains in the latest deal, which includes a top pay rate of $42 an hour and the restoration of a cost-of-living allowance that pushed up total compensation by 33%.

The agreements followed a six-week strike that upended U.S. automobile production.

Ford has said the UAW walkouts cost the company $1.3 billion and that the new contract will add $850 to $900 to the cost of a car, shaving margins by 60 to 70 basis points.