Record Pay Increases, Autoworkers Warily Consider New Contract
Auto industry workers around the country are looking over their should and contemplating what a new contract would mean for them, even as they have seen record-breaking pay increases recently.
The success of the auto industry reflects the state of the economy right now and after several years of stagnant wages, workers are reaping the rewards of better working conditions with improved contracts. But while the increases have been unprecedented, many workers remain hesitant and are worried that a new contract could mean a further downturn in the future.
This is a valid concern for many workers in the auto industry. Despite these record pay increases, conditions can still be foreboding and hard to improv. Layoffs, plant closures, and reduced working hours are still a real possibility and workers want to be sure their interests are protected before signing any new contracts.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes articulated this concern recently when he said; “We will not support any agreement that is not in the best interest of our members. We have to ensure there is no erosion of wages and benefits, and that workers’ rights and job security are protected.”
As for the proposed contract, it currently includes a 3% wage increase in each year that the contract is in effect, as well as $11,000 in bonus payments each year and an additional 1% increase in wages every two years that the contract is in effect. In addition, workers would also receive additional vesting credits and a 1% increase in 401(k) contributions.
These new benefits are sure to improve the well-being of many auto industry workers, but still, many remain wary, as it is impossible to predict how the industry will look into the future. Will these new contracts truly represent a net gain in terms of worker protection and stability, or will additional concessions be demanded down the line?
For now, the answer remains unclear and as a result, many workers continue to hesitate before signing a new contract, even in the face of unprecedented pay increases. While the auto industry remains healthy now, workers are wise to be cautious and protect their interests if and when possible.