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Autoworkers union reaches preliminary deal with Ford

NEW YORK (AFP) – The United States’ (US) United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached a tentative agreement with Ford on Wednesday, a breakthrough in a 41-day stoppage on Detroit’s “Big Three” car manufacturers.

The deal, which rank-and-file workers must still approve in a vote, includes a 25 per cent wage increase for hourly employees, the UAW union said.

Other key elements include guaranteed cost-of-living adjustments; an elimination of different pay levels or “tiers” that disadvantage junior employees; and a right to strike over plant closures.

“For months we’ve said that record profits mean record contracts,” said UAW President Shawn Fain in a statement. “And UAW family, our Stand Up Strike has delivered.”

Ford confirmed the agreement, saying “we are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement on a new labour contract with the UAW covering our US operations”.

Strikers picket at one of the gates during the ongoing United Auto Workers strike at the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, United States. PHOTO: AP

Also cheering was US President Joe Biden, who hailed an “historic accord”, saying “I applaud the UAW and Ford for coming together after a hard fought, good faith negotiation and reaching a historic tentative agreement tonight”.

Biden made history in September as the first US president to stand on a picket line as he endorsed the UAW’s call for “record” contracts in light of record auto industry profits.

The wage increase in the tentative agreement is somewhat lower than the 40 per cent sought by Fain when the UAW launched the strike on September 15 in the first ever simultaneous stoppage of Detroit’s Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Stellantis).

However, it is much above the nine per cent increase Ford initially proposed in August.

“This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three, and across the auto industry,” Fain said, while stressing that the final decision rests with members.

“We’re going to let that democratic process take its course,” said Fain, calling the rank-and-file “the highest authority”.

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