25% pay raise | Biden hails 'power of collective bargaining' as last-minute UAW & Daimler Truck deal averts strike

Biden hails 'power of collective bargaining' as last-minute UAW & Daimler Truck deal averts strike

United Auto Workers (UAW) and Daimler Truck struck a tentative deal at the eleventh hour on Friday, including a minimum pay raise of 25% for represented workers over the next four years.

The agreement, reached late on Friday night, averted a possible strike for 7,300 workers that would have begun at midnight ET.

Shawn Fain, President of the UAW, said in a speech on Friday that members are set to benefit from a “record contract,” including guaranteed pay increases, protections against inflation, and a profit-sharing deal.

The deal covers roughly 7,400 hourly workers at Daimler Truck plants across the South, including facilities in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

“For months, we said that record profits should mean a record contract with no concessions,” Fain stated. “Our determination and solidarity has delivered.”

The deal is still subject to ratification from Daimler Truck workers. “The UAW members at these locations will now be asked to vote on the new contracts, and we hope to finalize them soon, for the mutual benefit of all parties,” Daimler Truck said in a statement.

Once the deal is approved, workers represented by the UAW will receive an immediate 10% pay bump, with further increases in six months and twelve months.

Among those to praise the contract was President Joe Biden. “This agreement is a testament to the power of collective bargaining and shows that we can build a clean energy economy with strong, middle-class union jobs,” Biden stated on Sunday.

The deal also includes provisions for greater job security and better health and safety standards, and comes at a point of friction between the UAW and Daimler Truck North America.

Last Tuesday, the UAW filed unfair labor practice charges against the truck manufacturer with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The four charges include retaliation and discrimination against pro-union workers and interfering with the workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

The latest victory in the South for UAW workers

The contract agreement is the latest victory for the UAW after Volkswagen workers at a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted heavily in favor of joining the United Auto Workers union, described by the UAW as a “historic breakthrough” for autoworkers in the US.

The UAW hopes to secure union representation for roughly 150,000 workers at numerous nonunion plants for ten automakers across the US including Volkswagen, BMW, Honda, and Toyota.

Fain has no plans to slow down the push to unionize plants across the South and secure contracts such as the Daimler Truck deal. The next election will take place at a Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama, in May. Earlier this month he told Volkswagen workers “Tomorrow, we go and fight… You guys are leading the way. We’re going to carry this fight on to Mercedes and everywhere else.”

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Not all parties support the UAW’s push to unionize auto manufacturing workers at historically union-averse plants.

Six Republican governors from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have collectively condemned the labor group's efforts to organize car factories within their jurisdictions, citing concerns about the safeguarding of local jobs.

The governors also criticized the campaign as a show of “support for President Joe Biden's re-election bid.”

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