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United Auto Workers members walk the picket line during a strike at the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, in Sterling Heights, Mich., Oct. 23, 2023.Paul Sancya/The Associated Press

Jeep maker Stellantis has reached a tentative contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union that follows a template set earlier this week by Ford, the UAW announced Saturday night, calling it “another major victory.”

“Once again, we have achieved what just weeks ago we were told was impossible,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video released on X, formerly known as Twitter. “At Stellantis, we not only secured a record contract, we have begun to turn the tide in the war on the American working class.”

The deal, which must still be ratified by members, leaves only General Motors without a contract with the union. The agreement could end a six-week strike by more than 14,000 workers at Stellantis assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, and at parts warehouses across the nation.

Like workers at Ford, the strikers at Stellantis are expected to take down their picket lines and begin returning to work in the coming days, before 43,000 union members vote.

The union said most of the main points of the deal at Ford will carry over to Stellantis — including 25% in general wage increases over the next 4 1/2 years for top assembly plant workers, with 11% coming once the deal is ratified. Workers also will get cost-of-living pay that would bring the raises to over 30%, with top assembly plant workers making more than $40 per hour. At Stellantis, top-scale workers now make around $31 per hour.

Like the Ford contract, the Stellantis deal would run through April 30, 2028.

The deal also includes the hiring back of 1,200 workers at the now-idled factory in Belvidere, Illinois, which the company had planned to close, and the addition of 1,000 workers for a new battery plant, the union said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, who represents Belvidere in Congress, said he’s received indications that electric vehicles will be produced at the site. Stellantis had indefinitely shut down the plant in the spring.

Foster said he’s been working with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and other state and local officials to reopen the facility. State officials are expected to offer the company an incentive package as part of the deal.

Bruce Baumhower, president of the local union at a large Stellantis Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio, that has been on strike since September, said he expects workers will vote to approve the deal because of the pay raises above 30% and a large raise immediately.

“Eleven percent is right on the hood,” he said. “It’s a historic agreement as far as I’m concerned.”

Some union members have been complaining that Fain promised 40% raises to match what he said was given to company CEOs, but Baumhower said that was UAW President Shawn Fain’s opening bid.

“Anybody who knows anything about negotiations, you always start out much higher than you think is realistic to get,” he said.

Jermaine Antwine and other Stellantis workers picketing outside the automaker’s Sterling Heights, Michigan, plant were excited Saturday after hearing of a tentative deal.

“Anytime you reach a tentative agreement, it’s a good thing,” said Antwine, 48, of Pontiac, Michigan, who has spent 24 years with the automaker and is a team leader in materials at the Sterling Heights plant. “Ultimately, the numbers they did come to agree with is what the UAW wanted.”

DeSean McKinley, 45, of Detroit, said he is hopeful about the agreement even without hearing all the details.

“Through the grapevine, I hear it’s pretty good and that’s really a blessing for all of us, all the UAW workers,” said McKinley, who has spent nine years with Stellantis and works at the automaker’s Sterling Heights assembly plant, which joined the strike on Oct. 23. “A new contract for me... I have a son in college. I have a wife. I have a grandson on the way. It means I can take care of my family and better prepare for the future.”

The union and Stellantis went into intense negotiations on Thursday, the day after the Ford deal was announced, before finalizing the agreement Saturday. Talks were also under way with General Motors on Saturday in an effort to reach a similar agreement. Over 14,000 workers at GM remain on strike at factories in Texas, Michigan and Missouri.

The union began targeted strikes against all three automakers on Sept. 15 after its contracts with the companies expired. At the peak, about 46,000 workers were on strike against all three companies, about one-third of the union’s 146,000 members at the Detroit three. Automakers laid off several thousand more as parts shortages cascaded through their manufacturing systems.

Under the Ford deal, workers with pensions also will see small increases when they retire, and those hired after 2007 with 401(k) plans will get large increases. For the first time, the union will have the right to go on strike over company plans to close factories. Temporary workers also will get large raises, and Ford agreed to shorten to three years the time it takes for new hires to reach the top of the pay scale.

Other union leaders who followed more aggressive bargaining strategies in recent months have also secured pay hikes and other benefits for their members. Last month, the union representing Hollywood writers called off a nearly five-month strike after scoring some wins in compensation, length of employment and other areas. This summer, the Teamsters also secured new pay hikes and benefits for unionized UPS workers after threatening a nationwide strike at the delivery company.

Outside the Sterling Heights plant, spirits were high among strikers. Some said they looked forward to a ratification vote on the deal and going back to work.

“The tentative agreement is excellent,” said Anthony Collier, 54, of Sterling Heights, Michigan. “We hear that it’s going to be parity, at least, with Ford, so we believe a lot of people are looking forward to signing. Most of us had to dip into savings, get loans. Everybody knows the economy went up on all of us, so it’s a little tight to be out on strike pay.”

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