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Latest News - October 2011

October 17, 2011
Ford labor deal expected to pass as more locals vote 'yes'
Source: Chicago Tribune
By: Mike Ramsey, The Wall Street Journal

Ford Motor Co.'s tentative labor agreement likely will pass after the largest union local put its support behind the contract with a 62 percent "yes" vote, making it unlikely the remaining plants votes would overturn it.

Local 600, which says it represents 10,000 workers at the Rouge complex in Dearborn, approved the contract 3,255 to 2,027, according to the UAW Ford Department Facebook page.

On Saturday, the UAW put the tally at 56 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed with 15,287 votes cast. With the addition of Local 600, the total in favor would increase to a solid majority with about a third of the membership yet to be tallied. The tentative agreement requires a majority of votes cast for ratification. Ford has about 41,000 union workers.

After several early defeats, it appeared the contract might not be adopted, but as more voting came through, the momentum swung the other direction.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website, WSJ.com.)

Leaders at the United Workers Union now must turn their attention to Chrysler Group LLC's locals to try to ensure strong support for its tentative contract, which was struck last week.

Early in the week, several locals shot down the agreement, including two plants in Chicago and one in Saline, Mich., but votes turned positive later in the week.

Union leaders have been visiting plants to encourage a "yes" vote, but discontent over the agreement's continuation of concessions was high enough that those opposed dominated early voting. Some of the big plants that have yet to conclude voting would gain new production and jobs from the agreement.

Failure to ratify the contract would force Ford and the union back to the negotiating table and could lead to a walkout. Ford locals have already approved a strike, and union presidents have been told to prepare for one. A strike isn't automatic, however.

UAW President Bob King on Friday declined to say whether he would call for a strike if Ford members didn't ratify the tentative agreement, which is endorsed by the union's leadership.

"We're going to cross that bridge when we come to it," Mr. King said. "We think it's a good agreement. We think as members really think it through and look through it, we think we're going to get a majority [ of ] support. If we don't, we'll sit down, talk to members and figure out what's the next step."

The proposed contract calls for Ford to invest $6.2 billion in U.S. plants and add 12,000 jobs through 2015 in addition to a $6,000 signing bonus and $1,500 a year inflation protection payments.

 

 


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