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UAW moves on wage demands in ongoing talks with automakers

The United Auto Workers building

The United Auto Workers union has changed its wage demands as negotiations progress with major automakers. 

Bosses had requested a 40 percent pay increase but the union has now dropped that to a mid-30 percent raise.

It’s part of ongoing discussions for new four-year labor contracts with Ford Motor, General Motors, and Stellantis.

Read More: Stellantis Offers 14.5 Percent Pay Raise To UAW To Avert Possible Strike

The current labor contracts are set to expire soon.

The UAW has indicated the possibility of strikes at all three automakers if tentative agreements aren't reached by the deadline.

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Recent exchanges of proposals between the UAW and the automakers mark the first visible sign of progress regarding wages since negotiations began in July. 

UAW President Shawn Fain has criticized earlier company proposals as insufficient or disrespectful in his frequent livestream updates.

"We've got a long way to go"

He said: “Things are moving but they’re moving very slow, and we’ve got a long way to go.”

Read More: United Auto Workers Union Accuses General Motors And Stellantis Of Not Bargaining In Good Faith

However, companies have countered the union's initial demand with offers of pay increases ranging from nine to 14.5 percent over the four-year contract term. 

Some offers include additional bonuses and inflation-protection payments of at least $16,000.

Fain said the union initially requested a 40 percent wage increase to match the average salary hike Detroit automotive executives received over the past four years. 

Under the existing 2019 contract, full-time unionized factory workers start at around $18 per hour, potentially earning up to $32 per hour.

Read More: Looming Auto Workers Strike Could Cause $5 Billion Loss

The UAW's initial proposal involved a 20 percent raise upon contract ratification, followed by four annual five percent increases. 

This would result in a cumulative increase of 46 percent.

But the union and automakers typically evaluate wage proposals on a noncompounding basis.

The UAW has called for a reduced 32-hour workweek, the reinstatement of medical benefits for retirees, and the return of cost-of-living adjustments.

Despite the initial stand-off, there is optimism among Detroit automotive executives about the pace of negotiation.

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There is a possibility to reach agreements without resorting to strikes. 

"We are on a good path"

A Stellantis executive said: “We are on a good path and remain committed to reaching a tentative agreement without a work stoppage that would negatively impact our employees and our customers.”

The UAW's wage demands come amid a broader trend of labor unions successfully securing substantial pay increases from US companies. 

Inflationary pressures on employees and labor shortages have emboldened labor leaders.

It led to significant pay hikes in various industries, including airlines and logistics.

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