UAW members have voted to approve a four-and-a-half-year contract with Detroit’s Big Three automakers, ending a nearly seven-week strike. The new contract will bring increased wages, improved job security, and greater health care benefits to the nearly 56,000 UAW members throughout the United States.
The agreement was reached after months of negotiations with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler. It increases the average hourly wage of all workers by more than two-and-a-half percent over the course of the contract, and provides a $11,000 signing bonus for workers who have been with the company since before September 2015.
The agreement also includes commitments for investments in U.S. manufacturing. GM is promising to invest $7.7 billion in U.S. plants, including converting three of them to EV/AV production. Ford is promising to invest $6 billion in U.S. plants, including the construction of a new aluminum foundry. Fiat Chrysler says it will invest $4.5 billion, create an additional 5,000 jobs, and promote over 8,000 workers over the life of the contract.
In addition, the new deal also provides additional job security by cutting the number of tier-one new hires to a maximum of 25 percent of overall staffing. It also reduces the amount of temporary employees from 25 percent of the workforce to 10 percent, and increases the amount of temporary workers that can be converted to permanent status.
The additional health care benefits in the agreement include a raise of 20 percent in the current health care contributions from employers and an increase in the amount of out-of-pocket payments members must make. The agreement also requires automakers to make an investment in medical research and development and add mental health care benefits for the first time.
UAW President Gary Jones hailed the agreement as the “best in a generation,” and praised the members for their courage and solidarity during the strike.
“This agreement represents a major step forward for UAW members and their families. It ensures all workers will receive substantial wage increases, improved job security, and increases in health care benefits. We are proud to have achieved these gains for all our members,” he said in a statement.
“This agreement shows that when workers come together and stand united, we can achieve major gains for ourselves and our families. We will continue to fight for workers’ rights in every workplace across America.