This should be a holiday of thanksgiving indeed for the United Auto Workers union. It successfully negotiated contracts this fall that give its members big raises and bonuses.

The Tier II workers who have been working at a lesser pay schedule now have a clear path to parity with the longtime workers. Workers are also getting large “signing bonuses” that may pump nearly $3 billion into the Michigan economy just in time for Christmas.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

This summer, as contract talks with the Detroit Three kicked off, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams warned that negotiations are "never easy."

He was right.

Last week, the union came within a hairsbreadth of having a contract with Ford Motor Company sent back by rank and file with a big "NO DEAL" stamp on its face. 

Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn.
Ford Motor Company

DETROIT - Ford workers have voted in favor of a new four-year contract.

The United Auto Workers union said late Friday that the contract passed with a 51.4% vote.  The agreement covers 53,000 U.S. hourly workers at 22 plants.

The contract raises wages for all workers and promises $9 billion in investments at Ford's U.S. plants over four years.

It also promises ratification bonuses of up to $10,250 per worker.


DEARBORN, Michigan - Leaders of the United Auto Workers are making a push for the union's proposed contract with Ford, which is heading for defeat in votes at Ford's plants.

The union's chief Ford negotiator, Jimmy Settles, said Wednesday that with 75 percent of workers voting, the contract is failing by a 52-48 percent margin. Voting ends Friday.

Today, auto workers at Ford will begin voting on a new three-year contract negotiated by the United Auto Workers union, a process that will take almost a week.

The settlement is exceptionally rich by contrast with the last couple of agreements, negotiated when the automakers were on the ropes or just barely recovering from the near-death experience that ended in bankruptcy for Chrysler and General Motors.

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract.

  The UAW said the agreement was reached Friday morning. The contract covers 53,000 workers at 22 U.S. plants.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Union local presidents will learn more about a tentative deal between General Motors and the United Auto Workers Wednesday.

But not much is public about the deal yet. 

Just hours after the tentative deal was announced, the first next generation Camaro rolled off the assembly line in Lansing.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

The United Auto Workers has reached a tentative four-year contract with GM, averting the possibility of a strike for now.

The union had also set a strike deadline with Fiat Chrysler during a second round of negotiations, after the first tentative contract reached with that automaker was rejected by workers.

A strike deadline puts pressure on both sides, which view a strike as a failure of contract talks.

Neither GM nor the UAW are providing details.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Contract talks are continuing between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union as a midnight deadline approaches.

  GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said Sunday afternoon that talks were on a fast pace and the company still hoped to get an agreement by midnight.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union says its workers at General Motors will strike if it can't agree on a new contract with the company by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

  Both sides are still negotiating. The union made a similar threat in recent discussions with Fiat Chrysler before agreeing to a new four-year contract.

Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler Automotive's UAW members vote this week on whether to ratify the second contract put before them. The first tentative contract agreement went down to resounding defeat, forcing the union and FCA to try again.

Much of the opposition to the first deal was fired up on social media. At the same time, the union was widely viewed as having stumbled badly on its social media presence defending the deal.

They're not letting that happen this time.

Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press joined Stateside to talk about the negotiations. 

Fiat Chrysler

Members of the United Auto Workers union begin voting on a tentative new contract with Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday.  

Union leaders are being less passive after the rank and file rejected the first tentative deal in September. 

For the second tentative contract, the union hired an outside public relations firm and engaged with members on Facebook and Twitter to explain the terms. 

Voting on this contract will take place over two days, instead of two weeks, giving critics a lot less time to criticize and drum up resistance. 

I’m not in the least surprised that the United Autoworkers Union reached a new agreement with Fiat Chrysler late last night. Nobody, but nobody wanted a strike.

I did think it possible that the union might have workers put down tools and walk off the job for a few hours in an effort to remind the rank-and-file of their heritage.

But if there had been a serious strike, the only winner would have been Toyota.

Well, as you may know by now, the United Auto Workers union did an absolutely superb job negotiating a new contact with FCA, Fiat Chrysler.

Everybody in the industry was impressed by the result, with one exception, the workers themselves, who voted the contract down by more than a two to one margin.

Fiat-Chrysler employees reject contract

Sep 30, 2015
Fiat Chryler CEO Sergio Marchionne, left, and UAW President Dennis Williams.

United Auto Workers union members have rejected a proposed contract with Fiat Chrysler in a rebuke of union leaders who had praised the deal.

Official totals weren't released, but workers at many large factories voted against the pact by large margins, making victory impossible.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams

After several days of marathon bargaining, UAW and Fiat-Chrysler leaders announced a tentative new contract for workers Tuesday night.

They weren’t willing to make many details public, however.

UAW President Dennis Williams said that’s because union members deserve to see the new deal first.

Well, if you woke up in Detroit early this morning you might have thought you were in one of those old Back to the Future movies. The lead story was the auto talks; negotiators for the company and the union had been up all night, and workers on the line were waiting to see if they would get a deal, keep talking, or send everyone out on strike.

We haven’t seen anything like an authentic, old-fashioned, drawn-out labor stoppage in the industry since about the time giant tail fins were popular. Nobody really wanted a strike, but the fact one was even being contemplated was in a way, heartening.

Imagine going back half a century, and asking people which of these two things would be more likely fifty years in the future: A) The United States would have established a permanent colony on the moon; or, B) The United Auto Workers union would have chosen a foreign-owned automaker as its target company in contract negotiations.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Thousands of union members marched into downtown Detroit Monday as part of the city’s annual Labor Day parade.

Mirroring the downward trend in union membership nationally, parade attendance has lagged in recent years.

But the event still draws a big crowd, and there was an effort to bump up attendance this year, particularly from UAW locals.

The UAW is in the midst of bargaining new contracts with Detroit automakers.

Ford Motor Company

It's crunch time for negotiators for the United Auto Workers, and Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.

Union contracts with the car companies expire next week, on September 14.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

Just a week and a half from now, the United Automobile Workers contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes points out some some things that set these talks apart from years past.

United Auto Worker contingent at a protest in New York.
Thomas Good / wikimedia commons -

The current negotiations over the contracts are continuing pretty much out of the spotlight. There’s a delicate balance that both sides are trying to pull off.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes shared the "wants" and "needs" of both sides in these contract talks with us.

He penned a column today in the News about the talks.

Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers union’s greatest leader, has been dead for forty-five years now, killed in a plane crash outside Pellston, a few years before oil shocks and a flood of foreign imports began to drastically change the industry.

Several years ago, soon after the union agreed to accept a two-tier wage system in which new hires would be paid less, I asked Doug Fraser, perhaps the last of his successors to know Reuther well, what Walter would have thought about that? I expected he’d say Reuther would be rolling in his grave.

But instead, Fraser said it was impossible to know. We are living in a different world from the one Reuther helped build. And Walter Reuther was adept at adjusting to new realities. When the union agreed to accept a two-tier system eight years ago, they hoped it would create more jobs.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

The United Automobile Workers and Fiat-Chrysler open contract talks today. General Motors talks started Monday, and Ford begins late next week.

According to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes, these talks are new territory for the Detroit Three and the UAW.

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

Ford is moving production of the Focus and C-Max out of the Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne by 2018. 

The automaker isn't saying where the Focus and C-Max will go, but it's likely to be Mexico. 

The industry trend is to build less profitable small cars there because of Mexico's lower labor costs. 

In a statement, Ford says "We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations." 

UAW sign.

Bargainers for the UAW and the Detroit automakers will get down to brass tacks the week of July 13.

The tug of war will be between workers who expect to get back some of what they gave up during the downturn of 2008-09, and auto executives who can't fall back into the practices that got them in such trouble. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes believes it's all going to come down to who's looking ahead through the windshield or at the past in the rear-view mirror.

"As you go into negotiations, you can't help but think that the UAW and their membership are looking at the fact that over the past four years of the current contract, GM, Ford, and what is now FCA or Chrysler, have made $67.7 billion of profits in North America." 

UAW leader wants one health plan for all employees

Jun 18, 2015
Rebecca Kruth

The president of the UAW Thursday said the union is considering ways to cut health care costs for members.

Dennis Williams told reporters in Detroit the union is considering a health care pool that would put its nearly 140,000 active workers under a single plan.

“As we share in the bad times, we must equally share in the good times!”

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams fired up the rank and file at the UAW convention last week in Detroit. The meeting comes as the Union is preparing for a round of bargaining that will begin later this year with the domestic auto companies.

GM had an event-filled year. The company announced more shifts at assembly plants, like at this one - the Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri. It also dealt with the fallout from the ignition switch recall.

UAW members gathered in Detroit this week to let local delegates air their views about what the union should demand in contract talks with U.S. automakers later this year.

The discussion has centered on the two-tier pay system that's been in place for the last eight years.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

No union member likes the fact that pay for entry-level workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler is capped at about $19 an hour.

Not the workers themselves, known as "tier two."

Not the higher-paid workers, known as "tier one," like Jeep assembly line worker Samantha Price, who says the system creates inter-personal conflict at her Toledo plant "every day.  Every single day."