The UAW’s Broken Promises

In the UAW’s contract negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three Automakers, the UAW made a series of incredible promises to its members. But when the final contracts were signed, the union failed to achieve many of its headline-grabbing goals.

The UAW promised members it would win a four day workweek – which none of the final agreements allowed for.

The UAW promised that members would be given pensions – no new pensions were given out to UAW members.

The UAW promised health care benefits to retirees – no new provisions for retiree health care made it into the final contracts.

The UAW promised its members job security. But just days after announcing a tentative contract with Stellantis, the company announced the closure of facilities in Wisconsin and Massachusetts, and has announced hundreds of layoffs since then.

The UAW promised a 46 percent pay increase for members – in the end, the union settled for a 25 percent increase. Automakers had already offered a 20 percent raise prior to the union’s six-week strike.

Many members weren’t happy with this outcome, and nearly voted down the tentative contract with GM:

“That’s exactly why the people are so frustrated, that point. I’m hearing it the most from members, I’m seeing it on social media as well. President Fain is new, and he raised the expectations and then bargained in the media, which isn’t what we normally do, and there wasn’t any step-down. It was ‘hey, we’re going to get all these things,’ and then ‘hey, we have a tentative agreement,’ and he didn’t really get into why this is the deal after everything he was promising.”

Tony Totty, UAW Local 14 President

“I’m not voting yes on any contract that doesn’t have [retiree healthcare] in it because I don’t need the health care when I’m 25 — I’m 65, I’m at the mercy of Medicare.”

David Miller, 20 year GM employee at Flint Truck

“Shawn Fain lied to our faces about this ‘historic’ deal, only to have it fall apart within hours. If he can lie about something as big as temps, he’s prepared to lie about this contract in totality. His credibility and the credibility of this union is gone.”

An employee at GM’s Flint assembly plant

“The tentative contract does not provide any gains in work-life balance. It provides very minimal gains for long-term employees who are the ones that sacrificed during the bankruptcy. And even though we eliminated the wage tiers we did not alter the benefit tiers.”

An employee at GM’s parts warehouse in Ypsilanti

“They stated that this contract was an historic win for the automotive industry, and that this was going to be something good for the working class. But in reality, it was an historical win for them. It did not benefit us at all.”

Amy Wilmoth, Stellantis Warren truck plant employee

Shawn Fain and the UAW talk a big game, but its biggest promises never seem to make it into the final contract.