United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain announced Friday that the striking union had secured a deal in writing on one of its demands: to bring all General Motors’ electric vehicle (EV) battery plants under a national master agreement.
The UAW had reportedly been ready to shut down the GM plant in Arlington, Texas Friday before the automaker came back with its EV concession in writing.
In a livestream announcement, Fain, while wearing an “Eat The Rich” t-shirt, said that there was a lot of work still to be done, but that the UAW had made “great strides” in negotiations with the Big Three automakers—General Motors, Ford and Stellantis—since the strike began three weeks ago at midnight September 15 when contract agreements to cover the union’s 145,000 members could not be reached.
Fain added that among sticking points, the union was “still fighting hard” for retirement security for many UAW members, and that the union is “fighting like hell for real retirement security” for members who’ve never had a pension.
“But here’s the bottom line: we are winning, we are making progress and we are moving in the right direction,” Fain said Friday.
The Big Three initially proposed roughly 20% raises over the four-and-a-half year term of their proposed deals, though that is only half of what the UAW is demanding. The UAW at one point during the talks offered to lower its demand to 36%.
On Thursday, Ford said it had made a “comprehensive” new offer that included a “more than 20% general wage increase, not compounded” with a double-digit increase in the first year, but the automaker did not elaborate.
That proposal, when combined with cost-of-living adjustments previously offered by the automaker, could bring the total wage increase offer close to 30% over the life of the contract, people familiar with the situation said.
“Our goal throughout this process has always been to win a record contract…we don’t strike for the hell of it,” Fain said in Friday’s livestream.
He vowed to continue to press for double-digit raises, cost of living allowances, and other issues that he expressed confidence in securing just as the union had secured the EV battery deal with GM.
Fain also accused the Big Three of “trying to trivialize our fight” by calling it “just theatrics.”
“But it’s not about theatrics, it’s about power—the power we have as working class people,” Fain insisted.
On Wednesday, GM said the strike had already cost it $200 million in lost revenue for the third quarter. The automaker has filed for additional credit of up to $6 billion in anticipation of ongoing and potentially expanding labor issues.
Both GM and Ford have laid off thousands of workers in facilities linked to other plants that have been idled from the strike.
The first wave of the walkout in September included some 13,000 UAW members at three plants: General Motors in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellanits in Toledo, Ohio. Fain has twice since expanded the strike to more facilities across the Big Three companies, but he announced no further plant closures on Friday amid the GM agreement.