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Union Autoworkers See Higher Wages as Industry Rebounds

Photo courtesy of Ford

While the country is having a national conversation around raising wages for workers who have seen their wages stagnate or fall, union workers are actually taking concrete action to put money in the pockets of working families. Some 300 to 500 workers at Ford Motor Co. plants will see their pay increase by $9 an hour, thanks to hard-fought provisions won in the collective bargaining process.

UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles said:

It is only because of the collective bargaining process between UAW and Ford in the 2011 agreement that workers are getting this opportunity. It is our time to show America that the road to the living wage begins now.

When the auto industry faced tough challenges in 2008, autoworkers were able to sit at the table with their employers and come to an agreement that would keep Ford and other manufacturers competitive. As the U.S. auto industry rebounds, so too have workers’ pay as they move from entry level pay to regular employees.  This means additional good, middle-class jobs in manufacturing. Settles told The New York Times:

We’re excited that Ford continues to make good on its commitment to our UAW members by transitioning entry-level employees.

The workers’ pay raise will be based on seniority, and they will move up to the higher wage scale during the first quarter of this year.

This pay raise for autoworkers comes at a critical time for working people in America. Income inequality is an issue that holds our families back from realizing the American Dream. We have seen time and time again that the American worker is doing more and getting less. While CEOs and big corporations rake in record profits, working men and women are struggling to make ends meet.

For many workers, however, it’s their union and having a voice on the job that makes the difference. Not only will as many as 500 UAW workers see their pay dramatically raised, but unionized workers at Ford also will be eligible for profit-sharing, which means they can share in the prosperity they helped to create. According to the Detroit News, that means about $6,900 for each of its 55,000 hourly workers.

Also, UAW members at General Motors Co. and Chrysler will receive profit-sharing checks.  

When asked about the workers’ fight to raise wages Kristin Dziczek, director of the Labor & Industry Group at the Center for Automotive Research, said, "It also shows it is possible to move up to the higher wage level.They weren't sold a bill of goods. The intent of jumping to a higher level eventually was real.

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