President Fain’s Big Three Contract Update: “Ford Proposal Insults Our Very Worth”


Share This

UAW President Shawn Fain held a Facebook Live on Thursday evening to update our membership on the current state of Big Three negotiations. He addressed a number of issues during the stream, including a response to Ford’s contract proposal.


On the criticism that the UAW is demanding too much from the Big Three:

“I know that our demands are ambitious, but I’ve told the companies repeatedly, I’m not the reason that members’ expectations are so high. What’s driving members’ expectations are the Big Three’s profits. You cannot make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract. You can’t make a quarter trillion dollars in North American profits over the last decade and expect us to keep aiming low and settling lower. Our campaign slogan is simple: record profits mean record contracts.”


On the lack of progress currently being made at the bargaining table:

“The Big Three have a simple playbook when it comes to bargaining that can be summed up in three words: delay, delay, delay. So a month ago, I sat across from each of the Big Three CEOs with your national negotiators beside me, and I delivered our demands. I told them that if they expected to drag everything out until the final days of bargaining and then try to settle everything all at once, then they were setting themselves up for a strike. I’ve told them repeatedly, September 14 is a deadline, not a reference point.”


On the UAW filing unfair labor practice charges against Stellantis and General Motors:

“UAW family, I’m sad to report that the Big Three are either not listening or they are not taking us seriously. We are now 14 days out from our contract expiration and both General Motors and Stellantis have failed to give us any economic counters. You know, there’s a pathetic irony to having these companies fixate so much on worker absenteeism and productivity when their top leadership have ditched bargaining and are refusing to buckle down and do the work of actually negotiating a contract. GM and Stellantis’s willful refusal to bargain in good faith is not only insulting and counter-productive, it’s also illegal. That is why, today, our union filed unfair labor practice charges – or ULPs – against both GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately, many employers across the country are willing to break the law and incur the meager fines and penalties that result as just the cost of union busting.”


On the importance of Locals across our union continuing to organize practice pickets and rallies:

“While it’s important that we always defend our rights and seek assistance from the Labor Board in holding companies like GM and Stellantis accountable, at the end of the day our strongest line of defense is each other and our ability to take collective action. That is why it is so important that locals across the country continue to organize rallies, practice pickets, and other actions. We need to speak out together with one voice against GM and Stellantis’s illegal refusal to bargain in good faith – and we need to be ready to go on strike if necessary.”


On Ford’s contract proposal to the UAW:

“So far, the only company that has given us a response is Ford. We met with the company on Tuesday and I wanted to take the opportunity to go through their proposal tonight with all of you. Just as a reminder, we are living in a golden era for the Big Three. Ford’s revenue and profits are surging. Ford made over $10.4 billion in profits in 2022 and is on track to surpass that in 2023. Those are profits created by our hands. Our dedication. Our sacrifice. And those profits have resulted in unparalleled gains for company executives and rich shareholders. In fact, Ford CEO Jim Farley has said that Ford is entering ‘the most promising period for growth in Ford’s history.'”


Temporary Workers:

“So, let’s take a look at what Ford is proposing for their workers as the company moves forward into a new era of magnificence and splendor. First, we’ve demanded that temporary work be just that: temporary. While the companies have succeeded, workers have been left behind. And this race to the bottom has been driven in part by the reliance on an army of permatemps. These are workers who often work seven days a week, twelve hours a day, for months on end with no commitment from the company to their future. We have demanded an end to the use of permatemps with strong language that would require all temporary workers to be given the option to convert to full-time seniority employment after 90 days.

We have also demanded that temps be paid at not less than 85% of top rate, that they receive profit sharing checks, they be provided full healthcare and retirement benefits.

Rather than agreeing to our commonsense demand of equal pay for equal work, Ford has proposed that there be NO cap on the use of temporary workers. The company has proposed that they receive less than 60% of the top wage rate, that they be denied a fair share of the profits that their labor produced, they be given second tier healthcare and no retirement benefits. Worse still, under Ford’s proposal, the company would have the right to transition to an entirely temporary workforce over time and we would have no say.

Let me say that again: the company is proposing the unilateral right to hire as many temps as they want and keep everyone working as temps permanently with no end in sight. UAW family, that ain’t happening. We are going to continue to fight to make sure that temporary workers don’t become a growing underclass of workers at the Big Three. And we will win.”


Raises & COLA

“We went to Ford and proposed a double-digit wage increase, just like the Big 3 CEOs have received over the last four years. Because we know our members are worth the same and more. We also have a lot to make up for. In inflation adjusted dollars, our starting pay today is $10 an hour less than what it was in 2007. So, we have demanded the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments to protect our future and our families against the relentless tide of inflation.

What has Ford proposed? A 9% general wage increase over the life of the contract. And instead of cost-of-living, they’ve offered one-time lump sum bonuses. Companies love lump sum bonuses because they keep your base wages low, reducing your lifetime earnings. Ford’s wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth.”


On Ford’s dividends:

“Ford has been using the profits our labor produces to increase the dividends they pay out to shareholders. As of today, the company is on track to reward shareholders for all of OUR hard work by raising their dividend payout by 150% to a whopping $5 billion in 2023. If the shareholders and CEOs are lavishing themselves with the value we create, then it’s our turn for our fair share. I want to be very clear on this point: We will accept nothing less than consistent, living wages that grow with the economy. If Ford thinks we will accept a single digit pay increase and no COLA, then I hope these shareholders know how to work on an assembly line, because those are going to be the only people left to build cars come September 15.


On the UAW’s proposal to end tiers:

“As you know, we are also demanding the end to tiers. Right now, a majority of Big Three workers are second class workers, so we have put forward a proposal to bring the 8-year wage progression down to 90 days and to restore retiree healthcare and pensions for all workers.Ford has proposed that tiers continue. That means no retiree healthcare, no pension, and dropping the wage progression from 8 to 6 years. UAW family, as I travel the country attending practice pickets and rallies, I’ve seen a lot of signs. One of my favorites is “Everyone Tier One.” That’s what solidarity is all about. We will no longer let the companies divide us. We are united in the fight to end tiers.”


On the Union’s proposal of a Working Families Protection Program:

“Ya know, I’ve gotten a lot of heat for the Working Families Protection Program. Here is the simple truth: Plant closures are devastating. The Big Three want the power to take our jobs and the products we build and move them to other countries where they can more easily exploit workers. That results in massive job loss that guts local economies and rips apart families as workers uproot themselves from their lives and homes to travel across the country to get another job.

Our union’s position is that the Big Three are Fortune 500 companies that have made a quarter-trillion dollars in profits over the last ten years and are constantly taking billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars and they have an obligation to their workers and our families and our communities. So, if Ford wants to shut down a line or a plant and move those jobs to another country, then the company should be forced to continue to pay those workers until more product is brought back to their plant.

This is especially important in an economic downturn. Like Walter Reuther said: “nothing breeds unemployment like unemployment.” Our Working Families Protection Program would disincentivize the Big Three from shipping our jobs away, it would keep our families together, and it would keep local economies strong during tough times. It also wouldn’t cost the companies anything if they keep their word and honor their commitments to our members.

What’s shameful is that the Big Three would continue to threaten us with plant closures during the greatest economic run in their history. That’s economic terrorism, plain and simple.”


On the transition to electric vehicles:

Sadly, Ford has rejected all of our job security proposals. This is particularly unacceptable because right now the company is planning to move some of our powertrain work to dangerous, low-paying, non-union battery jobs outside of Ford. In fact, Ford is currently investing billions of dollars in companies that are not Ford and in a workforce that is not the UAW. And they are receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to support this race to the bottom.

If Ford wants Built in America to mean something, then it has to mean something. Our union isn’t going to stand by while we replace oil barons with battery barons who are more than happy to take billions in taxpayer handouts while offering workers dangerous jobs at poverty wages. Ford has a chance to lead here, but sadly they are choosing the low road approach.

Our union has been clear, we will fight for a just transition.”


On profit sharing:

“Our union has also proposed an enhanced profit-sharing formula that would provide workers $2 for every $1 million spent by Ford on stock buybacks, special dividends, and increases to normal dividends. Ford has responded with a concessionary proposal that would change the profit-sharing formula so that workers would actually earn less.

We ran the numbers and under Ford’s proposed profit-sharing formula, Ford workers would have earned 21% less in profit sharing checks over the last two years.”


On work-life balance proposals:

“We also have put forward several proposals aimed at increasing work, life and family balance. Like I’ve said many times, we are one of the most overworked populations in the world. The average worker in Germany works three months less a year than the average worker in the United States. What that shows us is that forcing workers to live pay-to-paycheck while working seven days a week for every week of the year is a social choice, not a necessity.

I heard this saying once, “every billionaire is a policy failure.” Truer words have never been spoken. Billionaires don’t have a right to exist. The very existence of billionaires shows us that we have an economy that is working for the benefit of the few and not the many.

I say the same is true for poverty wages and long hours. We need to wipe them out. The labor movement once fought for a vision of work life in which everyone had 8 hours for work, 8 hours rest, and 8 hours recreation. Sadly, it feels like we’ve gone so far backwards that we have to fight just to have the 40-hour work week back.

We need to get back to fighting for a vision of society in which everyone earns family-sustaining wages and everyone has enough free time to enjoy their lives and see their kids grow up and their parents grow old. Rather than working with us on achieving that vision, Ford has rejected all of our quality-of-life proposals.

They even rejected our demand that Juneteenth be a paid holiday. Let that sink in: Ford refuses even to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday, a day that is not just of historic importance to all of us, but a symbol of our shared values and the progress we still need to make as a country.

That’s just shameful.”


On the UAW’s proposal to increase retiree pensions at Ford:

“We have put forward a number of proposals to significantly increase retiree pay. Many of our retirees gave their bodies to these companies. They worked long, hard days on the assembly line for decades and they deserve to retire with dignity. Sadly, they haven’t seen their pay increase by a cent over the last 17 years.

Ford seems content to reward shareholders and corporate executives but not the people whose bodies and labor literally built this company. They rejected all of our demands to increase retiree pay outright.


Closing comments:

“UAW family, I know this update is infuriating. Believe me when I say: I’m fed up and tired of the bullshit that the Big Three continue to peddle. We knew this was going to be a fight.

I want you to remember what the founding generation of the UAW had to do just to win their union. They had to sit-down in the plants. They had to fight company goons. They knew that nothing is given to us.

If we want higher wages, better benefits, a better future for ourselves and our families, then we will have to fight like hell to win it. But know this: we are NOT alone.

Our fight is not just for ourselves but for every worker who is being undervalued, for every retiree who’s given their all and feels forgotten, and for every future worker who deserves a fair chance at a prosperous life. That’s why the public overwhelmingly supports us right now. 75% of the public supports us in the fight against the Big Three. That’s because we are all fed up of living in a world that values profits over people. We’re all fed up with seeing the rich get richer while the rest of us continue to just scrape by. We’re all fed up with corporate greed. And together, we’re going to fight to change it.

UAW family, the race to the bottom ends on September 14. Be ready.”

  , , , , ,

Other users read these articles next...