We spoke with autoworkers on the tentative agreements across the Big Three.

by Mindy Isser, In These Times

After a six-week rolling strike across the auto industry that garnered international attention, the United Auto Workers has reached tentative agreements with all of the automakers that make up the Big Three: Ford, Stellantis and General Motors. Now the union’s members are voting on whether to accept the deal.

Everything we’ve won, we’ve won together. Our union just showed the world what’s possible when workers unite to fight for more. We’ve created the threat of a good example, and now we’re going to build on it,” said Shawn Fain, the union’s president, during a live stream.

shawn fain stands with other union members

Fain, who took office only six months before the walkout, has called the agreements ​an astonishing victory” for the Big Three’s more than 145,000 workers. This was the first time the UAW has called a strike against all three companies simultaneously.

In 2008, amid the nation’s economic collapse, the UAW agreed to major concessions during contract negotiations, and it has struggled to fully recover. The union was also hampered by corruption, with more than a dozen officials caught reportedly embezzling millions of dollars in union funds between the early 2000s and as recently as 2021. But those scandals helped pave the way for these monumental new agreements the UAW just secured. That’s largely because before this most recent union election, union officers had been chosen by convention delegates instead of directly by members. Fed up with business as usual, members organizing within a reform caucus, Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD), fought hard to pass a one-member-one-vote policy, which allowed workers to directly elect their officers. In the subsequent election, Fain narrowly won after a runoff. His victory was not only a win for him but a referendum on the overall direction of the union, with many members organizing and hoping for a more transparent and militant organization, especially in negotiations with the Big Three.

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