The United Auto Workers accused both General Motors and Stellantis of unfair labor practices, as UAW President Shawn Fain flatly rejected an offer of a 9% pay increase from Ford Motor Co.
In shooting down the offer, Fain said the company’s contract proposal required concessions and did nothing to address key union demands on pensions, temporary workers, and tiers.
In a statement by CEO Jim Farley, Ford argued its initial contract offer to the UAW was more than fair.
Ford proposes wage increase
Full-time permanent Ford employees at the top wage rate could be paid $98,000 — from wages, cost-of-living adjustment bonuses, ratification bonuses, profit sharing and overtime — in the first year alone.
“Overall, this offer is significantly better than what we estimate workers earn at Tesla and foreign automakers operating in the U.S,” Farley said in a statement.
“This would be an important deal for our workers, and it would allow for the continuation of Ford’s unique position as the most American automaker — and give us the flexibility we need within our manufacturing footprint to respond to customer demand as the industry transforms. This offer would also allow Ford to compete, invest in new products, grow, and share that future success with our employees through profit sharing.”
Farley further noted the company is “committed to creating opportunity” for union workers looking for a career at Ford. He noted the deal eliminates wage tiers, accelerates the grow-in period to reach the top wage rate by 25%, delivers a 20% raise for temporary employees and extends to temporary employees the same ratification bonus that permanent employees receive.
Limits to the deal
Farley, however, warned Ford won’t make a deal that would mortgage our future and would be harmful to everyone with a stake in Ford, including our valued UAW workers. GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra said the same thing in recent days.
“Bottom line, we believe there is a path to succeed together in what is the most competitive and fast-changing era in the history of the American auto industry. Please see details below,” Farley said.
Ending tiers remains key UAW demand
Fain, however, said during a Facebook Live, which has become his tool for communicating with union members and the public, Ford’s proposal does not go fair enough to address key union concerns. Wage tiers would remain set in place for an additional six years and continue to divide workers. The union is proposing new workers reach top wages in 90 days.
Ford, while offering to pay temporary workers more, temps would be paid only 60% of the company’s full-time base wage, added Fain as he tossed proposal into a wastebasket — he did the same with a Stellantis proposal. As written, Ford’s proposal could turn all of the company’s hourly employees into temporary workers, he said.
In a move Fain labeled as a demand for additional concessions, Ford is proposing to cut the profit sharing for hourly employees by 21% at the same time the company is boosting dividends to shareholders by 150% and raising executive compensation by 40%.
Fain added Ford has made no effort to ensure electric vehicles and battery work is maintained under the UAW’s labor agreements. Instead, Ford is moving along a path to putting the powertrains for the electric vehicles in joint venture plants with non-union partners, Fain said. “We have to make sure we don’t replace oil barons with battery barons,” Fain said during his remarks, which were combative and profane.
The union also is demanding an end to the “economic terrorism” of plant closings, which destroy communities and upend the lives of workers, who struggle to make ends meet living paycheck to paycheck, added Fain, citing the case of a fourth generation Ford employee, who has yet to reach the top wage of $32 per hour despite working for 15 years for the automaker.
The UAW president also said 75% of Americans are behind the union’s fight for better pay, fewer hours and fairer working conditions, including better work-life balance. “People moved to the Midwest” years ago because they believed automotive jobs offered a chance to better themselves and families, Fain added.
But that promise has been lost by a relentless “race to the bottom,” which has reduced wages of top tier workers by the equivalent of $10 per hour over the past decade.
Fain made of point of emphasizing there was still time to reach a settlement with each of the three companies before the contracts expire Sept. 14 at 11:59 p.m., but the companies must get real with their proposals.
The unfair labor practices charges aimed at GM and Stellantis, followed both companies’ failure to offer any meaningful contract proposals, union officials said.
Both companies rejected the UAW’s complaint, saying bargaining was continuing.
Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president, said, “We are surprised by and strongly refute the NLRB charge filed by the International UAW. We believe it has no merit and is an insult to the bargaining committees. We have been hyper-focused on negotiating directly and in good faith with the UAW and are making progress.
“The pace of negotiations is based on how quickly both parties resolve nearly 1,000 UAW demands, including more than 90 presented this week. Our goal remains the same — to achieve an agreement without a disruption that rewards our team members and protects the future of the entire GM team,” Johnson said.
Stellantis echoed the sentiment.
“Stellantis has not received the filing, but is shocked by Mr. Fain’s claims that we have not bargained in good faith,” Stellantis noted in a statement. “This is a claim with no basis in fact, and we are disappointed to learn that Mr. Fain is more focused on filing frivolous legal charges than on actual bargaining.
“We will vigorously defend this charge when the time comes, but right now we are more focused on continuing to bargain in good faith for a new agreement. We will not allow Mr. Fain’s tactics to distract us from that important work to secure the future for our employees.”