The United Auto Workers said its members have ratified new contracts at all of the Big Three automakers, ushering in raises of at least 25 percent over 4½ years and additional perks that mark one of the labor movement’s biggest wins in decades.
The union's combative new president, Shawn Fain, said the UAW will now turn its attention to attempting to unionize the U.S. auto industry beyond General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, as well as other employers.
"The Stand Up Strike was just the beginning. The UAW is back to setting the standard. Now, we take our strike muscle and our fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to millions of nonunion workers ready to Stand Up and fight for a better way of life," Fain said in a statement Monday.
The vote was overwhelming in favor of the contract among workers at Ford and Stellantis, but was closer for General Motors union workers. Five large GM plants voted the deal down last week, with some veteran workers voicing opposition about receiving a lower raise relative to others.
The contract comes after a long period of worker wages not keeping up with inflation, and after the union gave up some of its benefits around the time of the Great Recession, when the automakers were struggling to survive. The union managed to claw back many of those perks in the new deals, including restoring regular cost-of-living wage adjustments to offset inflation.
Some workers said they were disappointed that the union failed in its aim to reinstate defined-benefit pensions and retiree health care for all workers. But the contract does boost the company’s contributions to 401(k) accounts to equal 10 percent of a worker’s wages. It also offers more paid time off and gives workers the right to strike over any plant closures during the life of the contract - a right the UAW views as important to protecting jobs.