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Latest News - October 2011

October 14, 2011
Half of Votes Counted, Ford Labor Contract Leans Into ‘Yes’ Territory
Source: New York Times

DETROIT — The ratification outlook for a proposed four-year labor agreement between the Ford Motor Company and the United Automobile Workers union improved on Friday, but opposition at several large plants that have yet to finish voting could still be enough to sink the deal.

As of late Friday morning, the contract was supported by 50.8 percent of voters so far, the union said on a Facebook page dedicated to its negotiations with Ford. It said 6,271 “yes” votes had been counted, compared with 6,085 “no” votes. And as of Saturday morning, support had grown to 56 percent, with 8,577 “yes” votes compared with 6,710 “no” votes.

Until then, the “no” votes had been leading after workers at three large plants — one in Wayne, Mich., and two in Chicago — rejected the deal, largely over complaints that most workers would not receive wage increases. The swing into positive territory happened when 79 percent of workers at a plant in Flat Rock, Mich., voted in favor of the contract, according to the Web site of Local 3000 there; that is the largest margin of approval reported publicly so far.

The Flat Rock plant, which makes the Ford Mustang and a Mazda sedan as part of a joint venture, is in line to begin building the Ford Fusion midsize sedan if the contract passes, saving it from layoffs or possible closing after Mazda ends production there next year.

Voting is scheduled to finish Tuesday. The outcome largely hinges on how many of the more than 10,000 workers at U.A.W. locals in Dearborn, Mich., and Louisville, Ky., support the contract in the coming days.

If the deal fails, negotiators could return to the bargaining table under an indefinite extension of the old contract, the union could call a strike, or Ford could lock out the workers.

Union leaders across the country have begun assembling strike committees and distributing information about strike pay and procedures. At the same time, many have stepped up efforts to win support for the deal, warning workers that rejecting the agreement could result in a worse outcome.

“With the way the economy is and the way labor’s been under attack, I think to vote it down expecting to get more – I don’t think that’s realistic,” said Keith Brown, the president of Local 245 in Dearborn, Mich.

In 2009, Ford workers turned down concessions that the company sought to the four-year contract it signed in 2007. Mr. Brown said he hoped that workers would realize that turning down an entirely new contract could have more negative consequences than voting against modifications to an existing contract.

Ford is the only American auto company that the U.A.W. can strike against during this round of contract talks, but both the company and the union have said they wanted to maintain a civil relationship.

If the Ford contract passes, workers would get bonuses of $6,000, or $5,000 if they were hired less than a year ago. They also would receive a $3,752 advance on next year’s profit-sharing checks in November and $1,500 annually from 2012 through 2015.

The total of the bonuses is at least 50 percent more than G.M. and Chrysler agreed to pay their workers. G.M. workers have already ratified their new contract, and voting at Chrysler, which reached a tentative deal Wednesday, is to begin so

 

 


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