The United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement with automaker Ford after six weeks of negotiations. The tentative deal comes as UAW president Shawn Fain called for thousands of workers to step off the job at the General Motors Arlington assembly plant and at a Stellantis plant this week. Workers have been striking across the country at the “big three” automakers since Sept. 15.

In a video, Fain said the tentative deal is a major victory. 

“We knew we were getting close, but we also knew companies needed a major push if we were going to make sure we were going to get every penny possible in this agreement,” Fain said. 

Some of the points in the contract include: 

  • A 25% wage increase over four years.
  • Restoring cost-of-living benefits. 
  • Improvements to retirement. 
  • A right to strike over plant closures. 
  • A three-year wage progression.

Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, said Ford’s tentative contract could provide a picture of what a contract at GM and Stellantis could look like. For example, he said, it’s likely GM and Stellantis also will see a 25% increase in wages. Right now, GM has proposed a 23% increase.

“Ford set the pattern,” Wheaton said. “If they can get their contract ratified, then I would assume that all three Detroit companies, Stellantis, GM and Ford will have very similar contract language.” 

Wheaton thinks the UAW will continue bargaining with GM and Stellantis to make sure union workers get what they need on the table. The strike at GM’s most profitable plant in Arlington could put pressure on them to make a deal faster, following Ford’s pattern of contract language. 

“If you are not seeing major improvements at Stellantis at GM soon to follow the pattern, you could see additional plants called out on strike to help encourage them to agree to the pattern.”

Reuters reported that UAW and GM are close on economic terms of the contract, but still stuck on details regarding temporary workers. The union and automaker officials worked until about 5 a.m. Friday on the contract. 

UAW’s vice president, Chuck Browning, called for all striking Ford workers to return to work from the picket line as the voting process for a new contract begins. UAW will hold Facebook Live events to review details of the tentative contract over the weekend. 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at and follow on Twitter @sbodine120

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Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....