As the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis nears the month-long mark, some progress has been made as of late, which prompted the union not to take additional action against the Detroit Big Three last week. However, there is still seemingly a sizable gap between the two sides in terms of certain sticking points in negotiations – chiefly among them, future EV and battery plants under construction at the moment. Ford has accused the union of holding up talks over this particular topic, while UAW President Shawn Fain has called that notion a flat-out lie. Now, according to Reuters, Ford and UAW are currently at a bit of an impasse in regards to these same future EV plants, along with retirement security issues.
In regard to the latter topic, the UAW wants to restore the same retirement security that was previously provided by pre-2007 defined benefit pension plans, which is something that none of the three automakers have thus far agreed to do. The problem is, extending these benefits to workers hired after 2007 would cost automakers billions, which is why both sides are exploring the idea of offering annuities as an investment option in company 401(k) plans, which could give retirees fixed, predictable payouts that aren’t affected by stock market swings.
Another big issue relates to the fact that the UAW wants existing and future joint-venture EV battery plants to be included in the union’s master contracts with the automakers, which is something that GM reportedly agreed to do last week to avoid a strike at its Arlington, Texas plant. However, both Ford and Stellantis have thus far refused to follow suit, though FoMoCo revealed its seventh – and most generous – contract proposal just last week.
Previously, The Blue Oval said that “future employees at these operations can choose to be union represented and enter the collective bargaining process. While Ford remains open to the possibility of working with the UAW on future battery plants in the United States, these are multi-billion-dollar investments and must operate at competitive and sustainable levels.”