Thu, 08/17/2023 - 11:23
The UAW-Detroit 3 2023 Negotiations
The stakes are high as a new UAW president fights for a self-described “audacious and ambitious” list of demands from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Automotive News will provide in-depth coverage of the talks until the final deal is ratified.
What’s on the table
The UAW and Detroit 3 are exchanging proposals over wages and benefits as the 2 sides look to reach tentative agreements on new contracts. Here’s the latest information available on what’s in those offers.
Source: Ford, GM, Stellantis, UAW, Automotive News reporting
Map: Plants and other facilities impacted by the UAW strike
Keep track of the UAW’s “stand-up strikes” with this interactive map showing the number of employees and models at each plant.
“We’re here to come together to ready ourselves for the war against the one and only true enemy: multibillion dollar corporations and employers who refuse to give our members their fair share. It’s a new day in the UAW.”
UAW President Shawn Fain in his inaugural speech to members last March.
Here’s what the UAW is fighting for in Detroit 3 contract talks
The UAW in 2007 agreed to implement a two-tier wage system as a means of saving the automakers money by creating a lower pay scale for new hires without reducing legacy workers’ paychecks. Today, the earnings gap between an entry-level employee and a top earner is roughly $14 per hour.
In 2015, the union and Detroit 3 negotiated an eight-year grow-in period for new full-time workers to reach top wages. It was hailed at the time as a way to eventually end the tier system.
In 2019, further progress was made, as the union got the path to four years for workers hired before that point to reach top wages.
Now, the union wants to put everyone on the same scale again.
Prior to the two-tier system, it took workers three years to reach top pay. In the 1960s and 1970s, it took just 90 days
By the end of the current deal that expires Sept. 14, 2023, Stellantis says 87 percent of its full-time workforce will be making top wages. Ford says 80 percent of its workforce will be at top wages, while GM’s figure is believed to be above 70 percent.
The UAW is insistent on winning back cost-of-living adjustments, a benefit that was first bargained for at GM in 1948, and elsewhere in the 1970s but eliminated in 2009.
The union argues that COLA is a guard against inflation, which spiked the past few years, while the automakers believe it’s an unnecessary structural cost that won’t be as relevant as inflation levels moderate.
Since COLA was eliminated, UAW workers have received more generous profit sharing payments, which are flexible and provide more to workers when the companies are financially stable. In 2022, workers earned a record $12,750 at GM, a record $14,760 at Stellantis and a near-record $9,176 at Ford.
In addition, workers at all three companies have received $1,500 in bonuses each year under the current contract; Ford’s deal refers to them as “inflation bonuses.” The companies have argued that under the current profit sharing and bonus structure, workers have made more than they would have from COLA.
The union, meanwhile, argues the companies can afford to add the benefit on top of the other payouts. Prior to its elimination, workers received COLA as well as profit sharing, although the formula for the latter was less generous than it is today. And when COLA was eliminated, the companies were unprofitable, so workers did not receive any profit sharing.
The union is looking to end what it calls an “abuse” of temporary (or supplemental) workers, whom automakers use to cut costs and safeguard against absenteeism by full-time workers or to help during busy product launches.
UAW-represented temps make less than full-timers, starting at about $16 per hour instead of $18, and they receive lesser health care benefits. Still, they’re eligible for some bonuses, as well as overtime and premiums for working weekends and holidays.
In 2019, the union made some gains: At Ford, temporary workers cannot exceed 8 percent of their total workforce, or more than 10 percent at any individual plant. At Stellantis and GM, no such cap exists, but the union must approve any use of temporary workers. According to the contracts, Ford and GM must convert temporary workers to full-time status after two years, although no such timeline exists at Stellantis.
Ford says temporary workers make up 3 percent of its workforce. Temp levels at Stellantis are at roughly 12 percent, while GM ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent. GM has converted about 6,000 temps since the 2019 contract, while Stellantis has converted about 5,100. Ford has converted more than 14,100.
The union is calling for all current temporary workers to be immediately converted to full-time status as part of this year’s negotiations, as well as for pay raises and limitations to how much they can work.
“The day that our employees are considered my enemy is the day I’ll retire. The head of the UAW may consider us his enemy, but I’ll never consider our employees our enemy.”
Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Co.
The lead negotiators at the bargaining table
One of the few incumbent leaders to win re-election, Browning has served as the vice president of the UAW-Ford department since July 2021. Prior to that, he served three years as a regional director. He also spent a number of years as an administrative assistant to the president. Browning has some notable bargaining experience: He led the UAW’s negotiations with John Deere in 2021 and Caterpillar and Case New Holland earlier this year. Those contracts resulted in significant wage gains and benefits. In the case of John Deere, Browning negotiated the addition of a cost-of-living adjustment, something the union wants from the Detroit 3.
VP Labor Affairs
Legel, a veteran of Ford’s labor department, took over as the company’s vice president of labor affairs in December, taking over for the retiring Bill Dirksen. Prior to his current role, he was director of U.S. Labor Affairs, responsible for managing relationships with the union. He joined Ford in 1993.
Booth is among the slate of reformers who won election to the union’s International Executive Board earlier this year. Before being named as vice president, Booth was president of Local 961, which represents workers at GM’s Marysville Axle plant. A Michigan native, Booth joined the union in 1991.
VP, Global Manufacturing
Johnson was GM’s lead negotiator on its most recent contract in 2019, rising to his current role a few months before negotiations began that year. He leads GM’s global manufacturing operations, manufacturing engineering and labor relations organizations. He was previously vice president of North American manufacturing and labor relations.
Boyer was among the slate of reformers who won election earlier this year. He most recently served as a Skilled Trades Committeeperson at UAW Local 140, which represents workers at Stellantis’ Warren Truck Assembly Plant. He was previously president of UAW Local 961, which represented workers at the Detroit Axle Plant, from 1998 until the plant closed in 2010. An Army veteran, Boyer also leads the union’s Competitive Shop/Independents and Parts and Suppliers departments.
VP, U.S. Employee Relations
Employee Relations: Fields was named to his current position in 2020, replacing the retiring Glenn Shagena. He oversees Manufacturing and Parts Distribution Centers Employee Relations; Labor Economics & Benefit Finance; Wage & Salary Administration; and Center for Employee Development. He also has labor experience at his prior job with BP, PLC in Houston, where he managed labor and employee relations.
Elected as the union’s 15th president in March, Fain could be the biggest wildcard in this round of negotiations. A former member of the union’s international staff from the Stellantis department, Fain ran for office to put the union “back in the fight” for workers’ rights and stop what he deemed a string of concessionary contracts that have been passed since the Great Recession. He has some negotiating experience, being part of bargaining teams in 2009 and 2011, but was a relative unknown before his election and has never held such a position of power. Already, he has indicated a willingness to buck tradition and has ramped up rhetoric.
“Workers across the U.S. economy have seen substantial compensation increases over the past several years, while UAW-represented workers have been paid according to a contract that was ratified before the pandemic. We expect the UAW’s new leadership will want to prove itself to the rank-and-file membership by trying to squeeze everything it can from the automakers.”
Steve Brown, senior director at Fitch Ratings
Here’s how much UAW members earned in profit-sharing bonuses during the current contract:
Hover over or touch chart for a detailed view.
Note: 2022’s number was paid out in 2023, 2021’s number was paid out in 2022, etc
Hover over or touch chart for a detailed view.
Source: BLS. UAW LM2 reports
Total hourly workforce
Hourly labor costs
Source: Automakers, Automotive News research
Average full-time worker compensation
(wages and benefits)
Source: Automotive News research
By the numbers
During the past 24 years, the Detroit 3's collective market share has declined while labor costs have risen. Meanwhile, top hourly wages for UAW-represented workers have increased only slightly. The table below shows data for years when UAW contracts were negotiated.
|Detroit 3 combined market share||Estimated hourly labor costs||Top hourly wage|
*Through 6 months
Source: Automotive News Research & Data Center, Center for Automotive Research, Kristin Dziczek
A look at UAW-Detroit 3 negotiations and the looming union strike threat