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"Workers haven't had this much leverage in decades, and certainly not since the 2008-2009 recession," said Susan Schurman, a professor specializing in labor relations at Rutgers University. Image Credit: AFP

Michigan: General Motors and Stellantis NV have each agreed to provide 25 per cent wage increases to United Auto Workers members in their ongoing contract talks, matching the same offer by Ford Motor to end the six-week strike, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The GM proposal also includes cost-of-living increases over the more-than-four-year contract, according to two of the people, who were not authorized to speak about the negotiations. A tentative agreement may be signed late Friday or early Saturday as the two sides work on final details, including how to handle temporary workers, the people said.

GM made the offer at about 4 am Friday, the people said. Talks broke up at 5 am and resumed at 11 am. The automaker wants to finalize the deal Friday, the people said, though an announcement may not come until Sunday, when UAW President Shawn Fain plans to update members on details of the Ford deal.

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Stellantis and GM shares rose modestly in after-hours trading. Ford shares rose slightly in late trading after dropping more than 12 per cent Friday - the most in 13 months - one day after it pulled its profit forecast for the year due to the strike’s impact. GM shares fell 4.7 per cent on the day; it suspended its full-year guidance on October 24.

Any final agreements must be approved by union leadership and then voted on by the company’s union members, a process that may take weeks.

Talks with both automakers were continuing late Friday to complete final portions of the agreements, the people said. The UAW’s Fain left the GM meeting to go to the Stellantis table.

Job security has been a key issue in the Stellantis talks, as the automaker shifts to electric vehicles. Stellantis had angered the union earlier this year by idling an assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that once employed 5,000 people, and by pushing to use more lower-paid temporary workers. Stellantis proposed to close 18 facilities, including 10 parts and distribution centers.

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Stellantis proposed to close 18 facilities, including 10 parts and distribution centers.

Stellantis has now proposed building a new vehicle at the idled Belvidere plant, and an additional battery plant, said three people familiar with the talks who declined to be identified discussing sensitive details. The automaker has also put forward creating an hub for parts distribution that would absorb workers from the consolidated parts facilities.

These offers are conditional on other items and are not guaranteed, two of the people said.

Ford agreed as part of its tentative deal with the UAW to convert temp hires to full-time employees. Ford has a fraction of temp workers compared with the other two Detroit automakers so it’s easier for Ford to give them permanent status. Offering the same concession would push GM and Stellantis closer to Ford’s costs, which are higher than its rivals.

The UAW strike began September 15 and grew to include more than 45,000 workers from GM, Ford and Stellantis at eight assembly plants and 38 parts-distribution facilities in 22 states. Ford’s deal with the UAW this week ramped up pressure on its Detroit rivals to wrap up their negotiations and get back to work.

Ford said October 26 that the work stoppage had cost the company $1.3 billion. Earlier in the week, GM said its strike costs had reached $800 million.