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Expert weighs in on potential economic effect as Ford workers vote on tentative UAW contract

Posted at 5:16 PM, Nov 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-02 06:02:33-04

WAYNE, Mich. (WXYZ) — From 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, thousands of Ford-UAW workers are voting on whether or not to ratify Ford's tentative labor agreement.

Leah Alexander is one of those people, she's worked on the line at Michigan Assembly Plant for 28 years and was one of the first to head to the picket line mid-September for what would become an over five-week strike.

"Every Friday, I was here every Friday," said Alexander.

When asked if she looks forward to not being on the picket line this Friday she laughed and said, "Yes I am."

Instead of picketing Alexander will be back at work. She's excited about it saying she hopes to stay after just voting "yes" on Ford's labor agreement.

"The COLA is back," said Alexander. "To keep you going where the economy is going. At least every year you’ll get some type of raise."

Alexander and many other UAW members have been vocal to our team about their excitement about the return of COLA and the raise in salary, saying it will change their lives.

But what will it mean for our economy?

According to the Anderson Economic Group, the UAW strike cost the auto industry about $10.4 billion.

Professor of Business at Wayne State University, Marick Masters told 7 Action News that the impact will continue for about a month as companies get back to full capacity.

Masters also believes Ford and other automakers will raise the price of their cars to offset employee wage increases.

"I’ve seen estimates that it could add $900 to the price of a vehicle in the case of Ford," said Masters.

However, where money is lost, it should also be gained if the contracts are ratified.

Masters said other auto companies will likely raise their wages in reaction to the contracts, "Non-union employers will raise their wages in order to keep the unions at bay, and we just saw yesterday. Toyota announced it’s raising its wages by about 20%."

It's estimated the national vote total will be complete around mid-November.

For now, the picket lines sit empty, but likely not forever.

UAW president Shawn Fain has already been vocal about expanding the union before any upcoming contracts expire.

When asked if the picket line was worth it Alexander said; "Yes, long as you get a win. If you’re out this long and you don’t get anything, then it’s not worth it, but we got a win."