How United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain Won a Historically Generous Contract (2023)

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain recently led a historic strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. Fain's tough-minded approach and hardball tactics have resulted in a contract that is considered one of the most worker-friendly in decades [[SOURCE 1]].

The Contract Negotiations

A month into the strike, Fain and 40 colleagues met with Ford executives at the company headquarters to hear Ford's newest contract offer. However, when the executives stated that they weren't prepared with a whole new offer, Fain made a bold statement, saying, "This just cost you Kentucky Truck Plant" [[SOURCE 1]].

The Hardball Tactics

After the Ford executives left the room, a UAW camera crew captured footage of Fain making a phone call to shut down Ford's biggest factory. The video, uploaded to UAW social media, quickly gained attention. Fain's brazen and theatrical strike tactics, combined with his unwavering call for workers to fight against corporate greed, have earned him celebrity status in left-wing circles [[SOURCE 1]].

The Contract Wins

Fain's strike tactics have yielded significant compensation gains for UAW workers. The contract agreements include a 25 percent wage raise, 10 percent company contributions to 401(k) accounts, regular cost-of-living adjustments, job-security protections, and other perks. These gains are already forcing other parts of the auto industry to raise wages as well [[SOURCE 1]].

Fain's Influence and Future Plans

Fain's success as a labor leader has revitalized the labor movement, and he has gained recognition as the most famous labor leader in America. He has even caught the attention of President Biden, who has expressed support for the UAW and walked a picket line with Fain. Fain has set his sights on organizing the U.S. factories of non-unionized automakers like Toyota and Tesla [[SOURCE 1]].

The Risks and Consequences

While Fain and the UAW have achieved significant contract wins, there are still risks involved. The contract agreements must be ratified by a majority of UAW workers at all three companies through local union-hall votes. Additionally, the bruising nature of the negotiations could potentially lead the automakers to move more jobs to other locations outside the UAW's Midwestern stronghold [[SOURCE 1]].

Fain's Vision for Fairness

Fain attributes the decades of weak and corrupt union leadership to the decline in UAW wages and the concessions made during the Great Recession. He believes that now, as the automakers have recovered and recorded healthy profits, it is time for them to give workers their fair share. Fain's call for fairness and his efforts to fight corporate greed have resonated with workers and left-wing supporters [[SOURCE 1]].


Shawn Fain's tough-minded approach and hardball tactics have resulted in a historically generous contract for UAW workers. His success has earned him celebrity status and revitalized the labor movement. However, there are still challenges ahead as the contract agreements need to be ratified and the long-term consequences of the negotiations remain to be seen [[SOURCE 1]].


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