The World Socialist Web Site calls on autoworkers at Ford, GM and Stellantis to reject the sellout contracts supported by the United Auto Workers apparatus. We urge workers to establish rank-and-file committees to fight for the broadest possible “no” vote and prepare a real struggle to win workers’ demands.
There is growing opposition among rank-and-file workers as they study the contract. The WSWS will continue to post updates on details and responses from autoworkers. The full Ford contract is available here, not including 50 supplemental pages that were not posted by the UAW.
Join the next meeting of the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network to discuss the implications of the UAW-Ford deal and how to organize to defeat the sellout. Register here to attend.
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“The deal is terrible”: Ford Chicago Assembly workers speak out against UAW contract
Workers at the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant begin to vote on the UAW-Ford contract on Monday and Tuesday. There’s broad opposition to the deal by rank-and-file workers, particularly over inadequate wage increases, below-inflation COLA, the maintenance of the tier system and the continued abuse of temps.
Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke to the workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant over the weekend. A number of workers stated they were going to vote “no” on the contract.
“I don’t think that the wage increase they’re trying to give us is enough,” said a worker with two years at Ford Chicago Assembly. “It should be more, inflation has been going up like crazy.
“The 25 percent raise over four years is BS. We should be at least 30 percent. We work too hard and they don’t give us nothing. Inflation is affecting me real bad. It’s like you work and you only pay for bills. Work, bill, work, bill. No free time to yourself or nothing.”
A veteran work at Chicago Assembly also said, “The deal is terrible. Because it doesn’t benefit people, including us legacy workers. They could have came better with the 46 percent. They shouldn’t have gone low to 25 percent. They could have at least went 35 percent.
“I feel like Shawn Fain you sold us out, for what you feel is a good contract. For us workers who have to pay the bills, watching everything is go up—food, gas, everything. Cost of living has gone up. The only thing I see was the COLA, which I’m hoping is a plus. But the COLA is also below inflation. I probably will see a little bit of an increase, but it will take me four and a half years to see what we really should be making now.
“I’ll have 15 years in by the time the next one comes. We should be making at least $40-45 an hour, especially with the state of Illinois costs. We’re out here doing back breaking work and we’re only getting a fraction of what we should be making.
“When I retire at 65-70 years old, my body is going to be gone. I can’t even enjoy the last half of my life. Everything is going to be broken down. It’s sad.
“We should have been still on strike on the picket lines. We should have voted and ratified before we even stepped foot in this place. It’s illegitimate. It’s a slap in the face. But Fain wants to sell us that this is the best we can do? Just watching so many this year go on strike, actors in SAG-AFTRA, John Deere? And we’re only getting a fraction?
“When you start crunching the numbers for TPTs [temporary part-time workers], and they say these big percent raises, but is it really that big? It’s because it’s so low to begin with. Let’s really talk about it.
“They’ve got money, but can’t give us a raise? And let’s talk about the CEOs, they don’t even put a part in a car, they probably have yachts, cuban cigars, four-car garage, six-bedroom houses—you probably living the life that I can never get. What is he hurting for? Why does he even deserve that much, $22 million or whatever?
“They’re not doing a damn thing and they get seven figures to do nothing, while we have people up in here passing out, dying from COVID, carpal tunnel, back problems, and our bodies are shot.”
Ford Kentucky Truck Assembly Plant workers report pressure to ratify UAW sellout contract: “The union and company are using the absence of people being paid in a timely fashion as leverage”
Despite the strike at Ford Kentucky Truck beginning October 11, workers at the plant reported that they only began to receive strike pay today, November 3, two and a half weeks after walking out, far longer than the eight days the UAW states it will begin paying strike benefits. UAW Local 862 Financial Secretary Rodney Janes had sought to placate workers in an email that they would receive strike pay by Saturday, citing “issues within the portal” and insisting the local’s “hands are tied.”
Workers at Ford Kentucky Truck were also informed last week that strike pay would be reduced from $500 to $300 after their strike was shut down on Wednesday, October 25, workers have told the WSWS. The following day, Ford called Kentucky Truck workers to ask them to come in voluntarily on Friday to restart production. Despite this, many workers initially declined to go back to work because, as one worker told the WSWS, “the mantra on the line has been no contract no work.”
The UAW had abruptly called off the strike of 8,700 Ford Kentucky Truck Assembly Plant (KTP) workers, as well as strikes at Michigan Assembly and Chicago Assembly, on October 25 before workers had any information on the contract, let alone the opportunity to vote on it. Workers at Kentucky Truck had been on strike at the plant since it was called out on October 11, in one of the UAW’s limited “stand-up strikes.”
Under pressure from the UAW and the company, many workers returned on Monday.
“Many workers feel like they are being penalized for being on strike because non-striking workers will get paid retroactively and basically some feel this is nothing but another tier that [UAW President Shawn] Fain argued he was totally against,” a worker said.
The worker said that “morale is extremely low, and to add further irony on Monday the first day many returned to work management had a big welcome back banner as if the workers had been on vacation and not striking for a better future.
“Many people including myself haven’t seen a UAW committee person since our return to work. People are frustrated and also scared.”
“Now many workers feel like they’re actually being punished for striking and also for holding out longer voluntarily by not going to work during the grace period,” a worker said.
“To make matters worse the TA highlight book is online but some of the older workers that are not computer or smart phone savvy are having difficulty accessing the contract online and plan on waiting to hear details at the ratification meeting before they vote. Some people have organized to print out copies of the contract highlights and have been passing them out to some of the distressed workers.
“People are angry and feel like they made the sacrifices to strike, and the union and company are using the absence of people being paid in a timely fashion as leverage. Sadly some people say they don’t care now about the details, they need money, and the solidarity on the line is beginning to fracture.”
The same worker said that the UAW had tried to discourage workers from speaking with the WSWS during the strike and that many workers had wondered why, but that “after the sellout contract many wish they wouldn’t have heeded the union advice!”
The ratification vote at KTP is scheduled to take place on November 12.
UAW-Ford deal will only automatically convert temporary full-time workers after 90 days, not part-time temps
The UAW-Ford contract “change pages” reveal that only temporary full-time workers (TFTs) with 90 days of “continuous service” are set to be converted to regular, full-time employment after ratification of the contract.
During the 2023 Negotiations, the parties agreed Temporary Full-Time employees [emphasis added] who have met the following eligibility requirements will convert to Seniority Full-Time employee status on the Effective Date of this Agreement:
- On the active employment rolls as of the Effective Date of the 2023 UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining Agreement, and
- Have at least three months continuous service as a Temporary Full-Time or Temporary Part-Time employee since their last hire/rehire date
In a brazen lie, Fain claimed during a livestream on October 29 that all temps with 90 days would be converted at the time of ratification, saying, “Upon ratification, all active temps with 90 days of employment will be immediately converted to full-time status.”
Exclusive: Leaked “Administrative Letters” between UAW and Ford expose labor-management collusion in planned job cuts
There are 50 pages of “Administrative Letters” in the 2023 UAW-Ford tentative agreement that the United Auto Workers leadership has not released to the membership. The documents, which were leaked to the World Socialist Web Site, reveal how the UAW bureaucracy is deliberately concealing from workers the number of factory closures and job cuts Ford is planning as part of its transition to electric vehicles. They also detail how the UAW plans to push local unions to override the terms of the national agreement and sign inferior local deals to “enhance competitiveness.”
A letter on “Product and Investment” on P. 31U states:
In these discussions, the parties recognized major changes within the global automotive industry. The external environment has evolved dramatically, with changing customer preferences, growth of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with uncertain demand and timing, significant supply chain disruptions, new competitors with new business models and uncertainty in government regulations and incentives.
Ford, the letter says, made product and investment commitments in the US “estimated at more than $8 billion by the end of the agreement,” with less that 20 percent of the total earmarked towards engine, transmission and driveline, and stamping plants most directly threatened by the EV transition.
But the letter makes clear that these promises—which are trumpeted by the UAW in its contract “highlights”—are not worth the paper they are written on. “The parties understand that the expected conditions upon which these commitments were based can change, potentially affecting the product and/or components discussed,” the letter states, adding, “The Company may adjust these commitments or move these products and components between our UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining Agreement U.S. facilities.”
Belying the claims by UAW President Shawn Fain that the union has ended its decades-long “unity” with the companies, the letter concludes:
The long-term viability of both the Company and the Union rests upon our ability, together, to find opportunities to profitably grow the business. These opportunities have not been exhausted. During the term of this Agreement, the parties commit to continue to the work done during the course of the previous agreement and to continue to secure the future of both Ford and the UAW.
Another letter (13U-14U) reveals the extent to which the UAW bureaucracy is a junior business partner with Ford.
“Since the 2007 negotiations, the Union has become integrated into the Product Development and Powertrains present and future planning activities” of the company, the letter states. The “sharing of information on the future of work will be a regular agenda item in the National Job Security, Operational Effectiveness and Sourcing Committee (NJSOESC) meetings,” the letter continues, where the union and management will map out “the process and product transformations occurring in the automotive industry due to new technologies,” including but not limited to “electrification, autonomous vehicles, alternative propulsion vehicles, industry 4.0, and virtual manufacturing.”
Ford CEO Jim Farley has said EV production will require 40 percent fewer workers. His UAW “partners” have already been briefed on this and have agreed to conceal this from their members. A description of the tasks of the local joint JSOESC committees contained in a “memorandum of understanding” on the job security program (122A in the UAW’s “change pages”) states they will review “the manpower requirements of forward product, facility, and business plans, maintaining the confidentiality of the material being evaluated.”
UAW concealing plans for mass layoffs at Ford Rouge
The UAW bureaucracy has deliberately concealed the number of factories Ford and the other corporations plan to close in the next few years and the massive concessions they plans to wrench out of workers to “save” remaining plants. But new signs are already emerging of the massive attack on jobs the companies intend to carry out.
A letter to UAW Vice President for Ford Chuck Browning buried in the UAW’s contract changes, with the subject “Zone 1 staffing needs,” states, “Effective no later than December 1, 2023, the entire Rouge complex will be considered surplus” and eligible “for voluntary job posting opportunities” at other plants.
Another letter to Browning, “TEVC Transfer Opportunities,” states that “the parties discussed the interest of finding job placements for surplus UAW employees,” again specifically referring to workers at Rouge, stating they would be “allowed” to transfer to Ford’s planned EV plant in Tennessee, which is not scheduled to begin operations until 2025 and is hundreds of miles away from Dearborn.
Earlier this month, billionaire company chairman William Clay Ford Jr. threatened the future of the giant Rouge complex at a speech at the facility.
A supporter of the Ford Rouge Workers Rank-and-File Committee told the WSWS Autoworkers Newsletter, “We have to vote no!”
He described the tension building up on the floor every day. “I tell everybody, ‘There is no job security. We can get fired at any time.’
“Ford says our plant will be declared ‘surplus’ on December 1, and we can transfer to Tennessee. But the Tennessee plant has no guarantee. How long is that plant going to last, itself? I would not go to Tennessee with no job security. You could be stuck out there after you lost your house in Michigan, and you are hundreds of miles away from your family.
“I am voting no. I want people to vote this down and fight for job security. Already they have started setting people up to be fired. They make the jobs so hard they are impossible. You are bound to get written up.
“I’ll give you an example. There’s a guy by me who is in great shape. But every day he is pouring down sweat like somebody soaked him with a water hose. When he went on relief, it took two people to cover for him. The team leader and the back-up team leader had to cover that job. That shows the job is overloaded, but they kept the job the same way. The union did nothing. They are setting us up to be fired.”
UAW-Ford deal: No protections from EV job massacre and low-wage battery jobs
There is no list of plant closures or impending layoffs in the tentative agreement, although Ford CEO Jim Farley has been the most outspoken in saying that the company has “too many” employees and EV production requires 40 percent fewer workers, which would entail tens of thousands of jobs eliminated at Ford alone.
The fact is the UAW bureaucracy has already agreed to huge job cuts and is primarily focused on acting as a labor contractor—supplying and training “displaced” workers for Ford’s new EV battery plants—and collecting dues from those low-paid workers. While the UAW has trumpeted the “right to strike over plant closures” it “won,” it is effectively meaningless, since the union bureaucracy has willingly collaborated with the companies over and over again to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past 45 years.
At the same time, in the name of “job security,” the UAW is pledging to collaborate in the further destruction of job classifications, health and safety, and other working conditions to maximize profits in the existing internal combustion engine (ICE) and new EV assembly and component factories.
An Administrative Letter from Kevin Legal, Ford’s Vice President of Labor Affairs, to UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, titled “Product and Investment,” notes, “the parties recognized major changes within the global automotive industry” including the growth in battery electric vehicles with “uncertain demands and timing, significant supply chain disruptions, new competitors with new business models, and uncertainty in government regulations and incentives.”
The long-term viability of both the Company and Union rests upon our ability, together, to find opportunities to profitably grow the business. These opportunities have not been exhausted. During the term of this Agreement, the parties commit to continue the work done during the course of the previous agreement to continue to secure the future both of Ford and the UAW.
Among such proposals are “competitive local agreements.”
The only battery plant mentioned in the agreement is Ford’s Blue Oval Battery Park Michigan (BOBM) plant in Marshall, Michigan, which was slated to open in 2026 and initially employ 2,500 workers. The much larger electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facilities in Tennessee and Kentucky—which could employ 11,000 workers—do not appear to be in the current proposal.
On page 35 C, the contract notes that if the UAW wins “lawful” recognition at the BOBM, Ford workers will have transfer rights to BOBM “on a one-time basis” and this would “establish no precedent with regard to any other facilities or circumstances.”
BOBM will be a wholly owned Ford subsidiary that will license battery cell technology from China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., or CATL, the world’s leading EV battery maker. To get around the corporate ruse that BOBM is a separate company, Ford will “lease” its employees to BOBM.
While production and maintenance workers at the battery plant will nominally be “covered” by the UAW national agreement, the UAW is giving Ford a free hand to do whatever it wants and providing numerous exceptions, including outside contracting, gutting job classification, imposing “flexible” schedules, etc. It explicitly states:
The parties acknowledge the importance of operational and structural flexibility for this facility. Accordingly, to the extent Article 1, Sec. 4 applies to BOBM once it begins regular operations and the Union obtains lawful recognition, the parties agree that the existing methods, terms, and manner in which the Company operates the facility will remain unchanged and/or maintain existing in place flexibility to preserve operational and structural flexibility (eg. Teams, operating practices and patterns, versatility, potential outside contracting and sourcing, footprint restrictions, etc.) and ensure best-in-class culture and lean manufacturing principles continue uninterrupted, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Master Agreement.
In order to provide improved business opportunities for profitability, effectively management business growth, fluctuations, changing consumer preferences, and rapidly evolving technology BOBM shall have the exclusive right to determine and modify future product lines; and BOBM may insource or outsource work or materials. Ford Motor Company and BOBM may buy, sell, spin, merge, or otherwise dispose of any assets.
The UAW has also agreed to exempt BOBM from any strikes, stating:
In addition, if the Union engages in a lawful strike, picketing, work stoppage, or dispute of any kind that involves or arises at one or more Ford facilities, Ford subsidiary, or entity in which Ford has an interest, no such actions shall be taken against or directed at BOBM.
At the same time, the UAW bureaucracy hopes to cash in from directing “retraining programs” for displaced workers from closed plants, both from corporate money and federal training funds. On page 123 A it states:
Jointly coordinate local training activities, working closely with the joint local Education, Development and Training Program and the UAW-Ford Labor Management Committee (LMC) Joint Trust to ensure that quality, cost-efficient training is provided and appropriate funds are secured from both within Ford and from external sources.
Cartoon: Fain pleads with workers to manage their expectations
UAW-Ford deal: Wages which don’t restore past concessions
The contract includes a cumulative 25 percent wage increase spread over four and a half years, far below the demand by workers for a 40-46 percent raise that Fain previously claimed he was fighting for.
There is an immediate 11 percent raise followed by a raise of 3 percent in October 2024, 3 percent in October 2025, and just 3 percent in October 2026. The final 5 percent does not come until October 2027.
Given that the Consumer Price index has risen by 22 percent since the last contract in 2019, the cumulative rise in base pay does not represent an advance, only barely offsetting previous inflation. By the end of the contract base pay will rise to just over $40 an hour.
The top wage rate of $40 an hour by 2028 will put workers behind in real terms, the top rate in 2009 at the time of the restructuring of the auto industry. In fact, the top pay of $40 an hour in 2028 will be near or below what a Ford worker was making in 1976 if inflation is factored in.
In other words, Ford workers in 2028 would be earning less than their grandparents a half century ago—despite a massive rise in productivity and corporate profits.
The contract reduces but does not eliminate the wage progression for Tier 2 workers, a substantial cost savings for management, around $20,000 per worker annually. New workers will earn just 70 percent of the standard base pay rate. After one year pay will rise to just 75 percent of standard base pay and 85 percent after two years.
UAW-Ford contract allows continued abuse of temporary workers
The immediate rise in the pay for temp workers to the poverty wage of $21 an hour only brings real wages up to the level of tier two workers in 2009, adjusted for inflation.
The UAW is boasting that current temporary part-time workers will be rolled over if they have worked at least 90 days of “continuous service,” and future temps will be converted after nine months.
But the abusive system of temporary employment remains in place. New temps will still not receive supplemental unemployment benefits, sufficient paid or even unpaid time off or other benefits. Management retains the power to “discharge or terminate Temporary Employees” with the only language added (P. 113 A) that “Temporary employee evaluations will be made available to the Union upon request.”
Most of the section on temporary workers (pps. 108A-118A) contains the exact same contract language on temps as the 2019 UAW-Ford agreement.
The parties agree in certain circumstances, it may be necessary to utilize Temporary employees to supplement the full-time work force…The number of Temporary employees will be 8% percent of the total active UAW hourly population Company-wide. The National parties can adjust this total between the facilities based on the facility’s previous absence data, in a manner that does not alter the overall total of Temporary employees allowed Company-wide. Any facility exceeding a total of 10% of their population as Temporary employees will require mutual agreement between the parties. [Emphasis added].
The contract language continues:
The Company shall review with the National Ford Department other situations requiring Temporary employees above the allowable number such as, but not limited to: product launches, attrition program transition, periods of high vacation from April thru November, placeholders awaiting transfer of laid off employees from other locations, or other similar supplemental manpower needs. Requests for Temporary employees in such cases shall be made in writing to the National parties for mutual agreement.
In other words, there will continue to be virtually no limit to the use of low-paid temps at individual factories, as long as it receives a rubber stamp by the UAW bureaucracy.
On page 110 A, it states, “The utilization of Temporary employee shall not be considered as an infringement of the rights of full-time seniority employees.” In fact, under the terms of the agreement, full-time workers can still be reduced to the temporary status if he or she is “laid off in a reduction in force.”
Unifor sanctions phony 7-hour strike by 8,200 Stellantis Canada autoworkers before announcing sellout tentative agreement
The strike by 8,240 autoworkers at Stellantis’ operations in Canada was over Monday almost before it began. While workers at assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton, and the casting facility in Etobicoke responded enthusiastically to the job action that was launched after their contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 29 without a deal being reached, the Unifor bureaucracy conceived of the walkout from the get-go as a cheap maneuver to give it a false air of militancy.
This is underscored by the fact that no sooner had Unifor and Stellantis officials shaken hands over a tentative agreement less than eight hours later, than the union ordered workers to immediately return to work on their next shift. That is, without the workers even seeing the agreement, let alone voting on it. So much for “no contract, no work,” a basic concept of working class solidarity that was until recently considered a core union principle.
The job action at Stellantis was the classic definition of a “Hollywood strike”—a stunt pulled by the union bureaucracy to create the illusion among rank-and-file workers that Unifor President Lana Payne and Local 444 President Dave Cassidy had “fought hard” to secure the same miserable “pattern” agreement the union previously imposed on workers at Ford and GM.
The bureaucracy is painfully aware of the widespread determination among rank-and-file workers to secure inflation-busting pay increases, an end to multi-tier wages, and job protections during the transition to electric vehicle production. They also know that Stellantis workers, especially at the Windsor assembly plant, had voiced strong opposition to the Unifor-Detroit Three “pattern.”
By touting the brief “strike” as proof of their supposed militancy, the Unifor bureaucrats hope to bamboozle and bully workers into accepting a three-year agreement that amounts to a real wage freeze, entrenches multi-tier wages, and offers no guarantees of the number of jobs Stellantis will provide following the EV transition.
Mack Trucks intransigently refusing striking workers’ demands, as engines run low at Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia
Mack workers have been on strike since October 9, after a majority voted “no” by 73 percent to reject a tentative agreement (TA) endorsed by the entire UAW leadership locally and nationally, including union president Shawn Fain. The deal had contained raises that were less than inflation and no cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), as well as weakening job security rules and lengthening the workday.
A leading member of the Volvo Trucks Rank-and-File Committee at the New River Valley plant in Dublin, Virginia, told the WSWS that the day shift Monday was canceled due to the strike at Mack, which supplies the Virginia factory with engines.
“Supposedly they are dropping some shifts so they can limp along without running all the way out,” the worker said.
In its latest “update” on Mack, the UAW admitted the company has flatly refused to budge on both wages and COLA. According to the UAW, Mack’s “position has not changed: ‘If COLA is a must have, our position is no COLA.’” The union notes, “While the parties agreed to schedule additional dates, none are yet on the calendar.”
In its own press release, Mack Trucks arrogantly rejected out of hand workers’ demands as “unrealistic.” Mack stated that while “negotiators were able to reach tentative agreements this week on the four local agreements that were not ratified by UAW members on Oct. 8,” higher wages and COLA “continue to be unrealistic.”
The media has sought to portray Mack’s management and UAW officials as being at loggerheads, stating that official bargaining sessions have been suspended. However, the actual conflict is between Mack and the UAW bureaucracy on the one side, and rank-and-file workers on the other.
The UAW apparatus has parroted the company’s claim that the workday must be extended at the Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO) location in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The company demands the eight-hour work day be scrapped and extended to eight and a half hours, adding two and a half hours paid at straight time every week.
“They’re extending the work day because management is planning to get more done with fewer workers,” said an LVO worker to the World Socialist Web Site. In a meaningless “improvement,” the UAW stated the extension won’t begin until 2025 and that “All contractual paid time off including vacation, holidays, bereavement, casual days, will be paid at an additional half hour of pay.”
WSWS Statement: Oppose the UAW-backed sellout contracts at Ford, GM and Stellantis!
The World Socialist Web Site calls on autoworkers at Ford, GM and Stellantis to reject the sellout contracts supported by the United Auto Workers apparatus. We urge workers to establish rank-and-file committees to fight for the broadest possible “no” vote and prepare a real struggle to win workers’ demands.
The UAW announced a tentative agreement with General Motors Monday morning after announcing similar deals over the past few days with Ford and Stellantis. UAW President Shawn Fain, US President Joe Biden and the corporate media issued the inevitable declarations that the contracts are “historic” (Fain and Biden), “reward autoworkers who gave up much” (Biden) and “give workers the biggest pay raises in decades” (New York Times).
These are a pack of lies. The UAW’s bogus “stand up strikes” were tightly scripted to conclude with deals that in fact had already been agreed to long ago. Barely a third of the UAW membership at the Big Three was called out on strike at the widest point of the “stand up strikes” last Tuesday. For most of the time after the Big Three contracts expired on September 14, 80-90 percent of autoworkers were ordered to stay on the job, working without contracts.
In a final burst of theatrics before the agreements were announced, the UAW called out a small number of larger, more profitable plants, shutting them down after a handful of days or less. Workers were ordered to end their pickets at these plants before there was any impact on the inventories the companies had built up.
All of this was designed in advance by the UAW leadership and the Biden administration to have as little effect on corporate profits as possible. Topping off this charade, the UAW apparatus shut down all strikes immediately after announcing their agreements, before workers even had a chance to see, let alone vote, on them.