Are you ready? 2023 Contract
By Pat Hayes
Over the next six months, events will be coming at us thick and fast. Later this month, delegates from UAW locals across the nation, including from Local 249, will meet at a Special Bargaining Convention in Detroit to draw up proposals to guide the union’s bargaining team in negotiations for new national contracts with the Detroit 3. Just six months from now, on September 14, local and national agreements with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis are set to expire.
Adding to the uncertainty, a runoff election for International President, International Vice President and Region 9 Director is under way. The deadline
for ballots to be received is Feb. 28 with counting to begin on March 1. Only then, will members know who will lead negotiations for new 4-year contracts
in the auto industry.
Two contracts will be negotiated. A national contract that covers wages, benefits, COLA, profit sharing and rules governing temporary and in-progression
workers. The local contract sets rules about working conditions in the plant. Sometime in the late summer or early fall, members will be asked to vote to authorize a strike at the local and national levels if necessary to win a fair contract. Voting to authorize a strike does not mean there will be one, but it sends a strong message to the company that we are serious about the demands we are making.
With or without a strike, once bargainers reach a temporary agreement with the company, it will be presented to the membership for approval. Under
the UAW Constitution, the membership is the highest body. Members have the final say. If members approve the temporary contract a strike, if one
occurs, will end. If members vote down the temporary agreement, bargainers will return to the table to reach another – better – settlement.
Some preparatory work has already begun at Local 249 and other locals across the country. In October, forms to submit proposals for the national contract were distributed to members in the plant. All the proposals turned in were reviewed by the local’s bargaining committee and submitted to the International on Jan. 6. We plan to distribute forms for members to submit proposals for the local contract in March.
Local 249’s executive board has voted to trim expenses where possible to prepare for a possible strike. The union’s Community Service Committee, which performs the important task of getting help for members and their families in time of need and plays a pivotal role in plant closings, strikes and layoffs is gearing up in case we are forced to walk off the job in September.
Right now, no one knows if there will be a strike or which company, if any, will be chosen as the target for negotiations. In 2019, General Motors was the target and UAW members were on strike for 40 days before ratifying the new agreement. While no one can predict the future, there are things that members can do now to prepare for a possible strike.
Save rather than spend that $9,125 profit sharing check in case you need it to pay the rent or put gas in the car in the event of a strike. Don’t take on any new debt just now. Talk to other family members and draw up a plan to pay necessary bills and keep food on the table while you are walking the picket line.
A prepared membership is a strong membership. Union negotiators are only as strong as the membership that stands behind them. If we really want to win back what was taken from us, we must be ready for a fight. In the event of a strike, weekly strike assistance is $500 per week. The UAW Strike and Defense Fund also covers certain benefits such as medical and prescription drugs. Benefits not covered include: dental, vision, hearing and sick and accident.
To be eligible for strike pay and benefits, members must be in good standing on the day before the strike starts, on active pay roll at start of strike.
Members laid off, on workers compensation or receiving sick and accident benefits are not eligible. Members must participate in the strike: picket assignments, strike committee, etc. All dues paying members, including temporary members, are eligible for strike assistance.