“We’ve achieved what just weeks ago we were told was impossible,” announced United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain today after his team penned a tentative agreement with Stellantis that promises to start building a midsize truck at the Belvidere Assembly Plant, an Illinois facility idled earlier this year after building Chrysler products for over half a century. Here’s what we know about the job and wages increases associated with the new tentative agreement between the union and the maker of Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler.
As is common with union negotiations in Detroit, a deal with one automaker is often quickly followed by a deal from the remaining two. So it’s no surprise that today, on day 44 of the strike — just a few days after the UAW announced a tentative agreement with Ford — UAW Shawn Fain is back in front of the camera announcing a tentative agreement, this time with Stellantis. And, according to him, it’s a huge win.
“We truly are saving the American dream,” Fain says in the video above before handing things over to Vice President Rich Boyer, who announces good news for Belvidere Assembly Plant (where Stellantis built the Jeep Cherokee KL) workers and their families: “Eight months ago, Stellantis idled Belvidere Assembly Plant, putting 1,200 of our members on the street,” he says. “From the day I heard they were coming after Belvidere, I swore one thing: We weren’t going to let them kill another working class community.” So then comes the big announcement:
“UAW family, it is… my great honor to announce that we have saved Belvidere. Again, we have saved Belvedere… We have won a new vehicle at Belvidere…it will be a midsize truck, and we will have two shifts. In addition to the vehicle commitment, Stellantis will also be adding over 1,000 jobs at a new battery plant in Belvidere.
We got everyone who lost their job at Belvidere put back on temporary layoff, meaning they’ll get sub-pay and healthcare until their job’s back in Belvidere. Under our contract, members from Belvidere who have been scattered across this country will have the right to return back to Belvidere.
“We’ve done the impossible. We have moved mountains,” jumps in Fain. “We have reopened an assembly plant the company closed.” On top of this, two plants that Stellantis had apparently told the UAW would close, are not just sticking around, but one is adding jobs. From Boyer:
“We have won product commitments that will save all these jobs at Trenton Engine and double the workforce at Toledo machining…altogether we have won over 19 Billion in new investment in the United States.”
Fain assures UAW members that these job additions aren’t just temporary; the UAW will strike if Stellantis goes back on these promises. From Fain:
“We not only won the right to strike over plant closure, we won the right to strike over product and investment. That means if the company goes back on their word over any of these plans, we can strike the hell out of them.”
He goes on:
“They told us for years that the electric vehicle transission was a death sentenace for good auto jobs in this country. We stood up and said ‘No!’ With this agreement, we’re proving them all wrong…we’re adding 5,000 jobs in powertrain alone.”
As for pay increases, the UAW breaks it down in its press release, writing:
The agreement grants 25% in base wage increases through April 2028, and will cumulatively raise the top wage by 33% compounded with estimated COLA to over $42 an hour. The starting wage will increase by 67% compounded with estimated COLA, to over $30 an hour. The lowest-paid workers at Stellantis, temporary workers, will see a raise of more than 165% over the life of the agreement. Some workers at Mopar will receive an immediate 76% increase upon ratification.
Boyer mentions an immediate pay increase for all Stellantis workers after the contract has been ratified:
“At ratification, Stellantis workers will receive an immediately 11 percent wage increase; that’s almost equal to all the wage increases since 2007 combined.”
UAW leadership is clearly happy with this tentative agreement, putting it into context in the union’s press release:
Like the Ford agreement, the Stellantis deal includes gains valued at more than four times the gains from the union’s 2019 contract. It provides more in base wage increases than Stellantis workers have received in the past 22 years.
As for other wins, the UAW breaks down changes to the retirement setup and to the tier-system:
The agreement reinstates major benefits lost during the Great Recession, including Cost-of-Living Allowances and a three-year Wage Progression, as well as killing divisive wage tiers in the union. It improves retirement for current retirees, those workers with pensions, and those who have 401(k) plans.
Plus, Fain proudly mentions in the video a change to a system that keeps temporary workers onboard for a long time without making them full-time. From Fain:
“The system of permatemps, where this company keeps thousands and thousands of our members in permanent lower class status, that system has now ended. Immediately upon ratification, thousands of temps will be converted. No one will remain a temp for more than nine months after ratification.”
Boyer announces that all Stellantis UAW members will head back to work so that production of Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators in Toledo, Ohio — and Ram 1500s in Sterling Heights, Michigan — can resume. In addition, workers at the Mopar Parts Depot will also resume work.
“The days of low-wage, unstable jobs at the big three are coming to an end,” Fain says towards the end of the video above. “The days of the Big Three walking away from the American working class, destroying our communities, are coming to an end. We’ve seen 65 plant closures in the past 20 years; think of the lives disrupted and destroyed. Think of the communities that that’s affected…With the right to strike over plant closures and the right to strike over product, we are saying ‘Not One More.'”
From here, the UAW National Stellantis Council will meet in Detroit on Thursday, November 2. If they agree to send the deal to all members, a Facebook Live session for all members will happen that night to allow members to review the agreement. Then the UAW will hold regional meetings with local leadership, and after that those leaders will head back to their local offices to help all members understand the deal fully. Then there will be a ratification vote.
As for what Stellantis has to say, here’s a quote from the company’s North America COO Mark Stewert:
Today, as we announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with the UAW on a new labor contract, I would like to thank all the negotiating teams who have worked tirelessly for many weeks to get to this point. We look forward to welcoming our 43,000 employees back to work and resuming operations to serve our customers and execute our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan to maintain Stellantis’ position at the forefront of innovation.
This agreement is now subject to ratification by Stellantis’ UAW-represented employees and, out of respect for the process, we will decline further comment to allow the UAW to share the details with its members.