The United Auto Workers (UAW) reached a tentative agreement with General Motors (GM) on Monday. The agreement once approved by UAW members will end the six-week work stoppage affecting the three biggest U.S. carmakers.
The Associated Press reported that GM chief Mary Barra met with UAW leaders over the weekend and Monday morning to close the deal. The agreement follows similar deals the labor union reached in the last few days with Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Chrysler and Jeep.
All three companies agreed to raise pay by 25 percent for top workers. People who are familiar with the agreement say that additional cost of living adjustments would bring their total pay increases to over 30 percent. At Stellantis, top workers now make around $31 an hour. Under the new deal, that will go up to more than $42 an hour.
Nearly 50,000 auto workers out of nearly 150,000 union members at the three automakers joined the strike that began on September 15.
The deals are seen as a victory for workers who had given up raises following the 2008 financial crisis to help the companies. UAW leaders argued that their contract fight was part of a much larger movement to make up for years of economic setbacks for American workers.
"This is more than an auto industry story; it is a signal to the entire country that unionized workers can demand and get big wage increases," said Patrick Anderson of the Anderson Economic Group.
Biden says, “…great!”
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday praised the tentative agreement. "I think it's great," he said.
Biden had earlier joined striking workers at a General Motors parts center west of Detroit, Michigan. Biden’s action represented the strongest-ever presidential support for striking workers in a labor dispute.
Aides to Biden have been worried about a lengthy auto strike and drop in production. They were concerned that it would damage both the U.S. economy and the Democratic president's chances of re-election in 2024.
The three automakers argued that the UAW's demands would greatly raise costs and put them in competition with non-union carmakers like America’s Tesla and Japan’s Toyota.
The UAW said before the GM announcement that it wants to expand negotiations to other non-union carmakers in 2028.
University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon observed that the strike results would likely lead non-union carmakers to raise pay and do “everything they can to keep the UAW out.”
I’m Jill Robbins.