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Autoworkers Ponder Record Raises: Weighing the Pros and Cons of New Contracts

As automakers grapple with an onslaught of changing trends in the industry, concerns among unionized auto workers remain high. This is especially true now as auto workers are staring down potentially new contracts that offer record pay increases. Despite the promise of more money, many workers have been hesitant to get on-board. The United Auto Workers (UAW) recently negotiated a series of four-year collective bargaining agreements with the “Big Three” automakers–Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler–for hundreds of thousands of auto workers in the United States. The agreements are expected to provide some of the highest wage increases for unionized auto workers in decades, with a variety of wage and bonus increases. However, while the contracts promise increasingly generous pay raises, there is concern among auto workers that the agreement lacks protection for job security. With the auto industry in the midst of dramatic changes from shifting consumer preferences and technological advancements in self-driving cars, some workers feel that the UAW did not provide enough safeguards against job losses from automation and plant closures. In addition to job security worries, the agreement does not include any changes to healthcare benefits or other perks that UAW members currently receive, which may leave some auto workers feeling that the deal does not adequately address all of their concerns. Unsure how to react to the proposed contracts, many UAW members have voiced their frustration and called for further amendment. The UAW has responded to the outcry from workers by delaying ratification of the contract and establishing a rank-and-file committee to review the terms before they are put to a vote. While only time will tell if these new contracts are ultimately accepted by auto workers, one thing is certain: the auto industry landscape is changing quickly, and by the time the next round of contract negotiations comes around the situation will likely look very different. Whatever comes of the current negotiations, it is clear that the UAW recognizes the importance of empowering workers to make fully informed decisions about their futures.