Jeep maker Stellantis has made significant progress in negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, reaching a tentative contract agreement following a template set by Ford earlier this week. The deal, which still requires ratification by union members, leaves General Motors as the only major automaker without a contract agreement with the UAW.
This potential agreement could mark the end of a six-week strike involving over 14,000 workers at Stellantis assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, as well as at parts warehouses across the nation.
Like their counterparts at Ford, striking workers at Stellantis are expected to suspend their picket lines and gradually return to work in the coming days, pending a vote by the union’s 43,000 members.
Details about the tentative agreement, which are subject to ratification, reflect many of the main points included in the Ford contract. These points include significant wage increases for top assembly plant workers, with a 25% increase over the next 4 1/2 years, and a substantial cost-of-living pay adjustment that could bring raises to over 30%. At Stellantis, top-scale workers currently earn around $31 per hour, while the Ford agreement promises top assembly plant workers more than $40 per hour. Like the Ford contract, this agreement with Stellantis is expected to run through April 30, 2028.
The deal is also likely to contain information about the now-idled factory in Belvidere, Illinois, which had been scheduled for closure. Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, representing Belvidere, indicated that the facility may be repurposed for electric vehicle production, potentially including a new battery factory. The plant, which was idled earlier in the year, could see a revival thanks to state incentives offered to Stellantis as part of the deal.
Bruce Baumhower, the president of the local union at a major Stellantis Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio, which has been on strike since September, expressed optimism about the deal. He expects workers to approve it, largely due to the substantial pay increases, including an immediate 11% raise.
While some union members had initially expected 40% raises to match executive compensation, Baumhower clarified that this was UAW President Shawn Fain’s opening negotiation bid, and it’s customary to start negotiations with higher figures than ultimately expected.
Workers and picketers outside Stellantis plants expressed enthusiasm and relief at the news of the tentative agreement, as it signifies progress in the ongoing negotiations.
Talks are also underway with General Motors in an effort to reach a similar agreement. Over 14,000 workers at GM remain on strike at various factories in Texas, Michigan, and Missouri.
The UAW initiated targeted strikes against all three major automakers on September 15 after their contracts with the companies had expired. Negotiations between the UAW and Stellantis intensified immediately following the Ford agreement announcement, culminating in the tentative agreement reached on Saturday.
At its height, the strike involved approximately 46,000 workers across all three companies, affecting about one-third of the union’s 146,000 members in the Detroit three. Additionally, automakers laid off several thousand more employees due to parts shortages rippling through their manufacturing processes.
The Ford deal not only brings substantial wage increases but also includes provisions for pensioners and new hires, setting a precedent that the UAW can now strike over factory closures. Temporary workers are also slated to receive substantial raises, and Ford has agreed to shorten the time it takes for new hires to reach the top of the pay scale. These developments reflect an ongoing trend of organized labor securing better compensation and benefits for its members.