Ford union workers ratify UAW deal, completing historic negotiations with Detroit automaker

  • United Auto Workers members at Ford Motor have ratified a new labor contract.
  • A majority of Ford plants overwhelmingly approved the deal, which, like the one with GM and Stellantis, calls for wage increases of at least 25%.
  • The contract ratifications come weeks after the automakers and the union reached tentative agreements, ending about six weeks of targeted strikes by the UAW.

Members of the United Auto Workers union demonstrate in front of the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 26, 2023.

Matthew Hatcher | AFP | Getty Images

DETROIT – Union members at Ford Motor agreed to a tentative agreement Friday, ending contentious collective bargaining between the United Auto Workers and Detroit automakers.

UAW-Ford workers were the last automakers to ratify their pact, after General Motors workers narrowly approved a deal Thursday and Stellantis workers backed their deal, according to preliminary voting results the union reported Friday had published.

According to the UAW’s vote tracker, which has yet to be finalized, the Ford deal was supported by 68.2% of the nearly 35,000 Ford autoworkers who voted. There were still a few smaller facilities left to complete the vote, but there aren’t enough employees at those locations to make up for the margin of more than 12,600 votes.

Local UAW chapters representing all Ford plants voted in favor of the pact early Friday afternoon, except for a small parts plant in Florida and the automaker’s massive truck plant in Kentucky. The plant that overstated ratification was the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan, where about 2,700 members voted in favor of the agreement by a margin of 78.7%, according to the union’s vote tracker.

Ford and the UAW did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The contract ratifications come weeks after the automakers and the union reached tentative agreements, ending about six weeks of targeted strikes by the UAW. The strikes, which began on September 15, were targeted work stoppages that expanded plant after plant to increase pressure on automakers.

Preliminary results at Stellantis showed support from 68.4% of voting wage workers. At GM, the vote resulted in 54.7% approval.

GM’s vote was closer, in part because of the demographic makeup of the company’s workforce. The automaker has the highest percentage of traditional workers compared to its downtown rivals. These workers have expressed their disapproval of the wage increases granted to them by the agreements compared to those for new hires. They were also dissatisfied with pension contributions and pension benefits.

Still, the agreements are record-breaking for the union, which has been far more confrontational and strategic in the talks than in recent history, as promised by UAW President Shawn Fain, who led the union in March.

The agreements include wage increases of at least 25%, a return to cost-of-living adjustments and other economic improvements. The union said the improvements were worth more than four times the gains from the 2019 contract and provided higher base pay increases than workers have received in the past 22 years.

For the union and Fain, the agreements and associated economic gains help expand the union base through inclusion of future jobs, such as at battery plants and organizing at other non-union automakers in the United States

For companies and their investors, the contracts represent the upper end of the forecast wage cost increases.

Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said in October that the UAW deal, if ratified by members, would increase the cost per assembled vehicle by $850 to $900. He said Ford would work to “achieve productivity, efficiency and cost reductions across the company” to offset the additional costs and meet previously announced profitability targets.