UAW Rejects Fords Bid for Concessions

Rebounding automaker sought parity with GM, Chrysler

Unionized workers at Ford Motor Co. have rejected the automaker’s request for modifications to their labor agreement. "The additional modifications we sought recently were designed to honor pattern bargaining and provide Ford with similar additional efficiencies as those ratified this year for our domestic competitors," according to a Ford statement.

Ford sought wage freezes on new hires, a promise that the union would not strike until 2015, and more flexible work rules.

Previously, the Canadian Auto Workers union agreed to changes in the collective bargaining agreement covering 7,000 Ford employees at the Oakville Assembly Complex and Essex Engine Plant, both in Ontario.

The United Auto Workers’ rejection came in rank-in-file that began about a week ago. The results came the same day that Ford reported a third-quarter profit of $997 million, compared with a $161-million loss in the third quarter of 2008.

The UAW said that 70% of its members and 75% of those representing skilled trades voted to deny concessions to Ford. “The ratification process proves once again that the membership is the highest authority in our union and we are respectful of the final outcome,” according to UAW president Ron Gettelfinger and vice president Bob King in a statement.

Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors each agreed to a framework agreement with the UAW in 2007. That agreement set in place the means for the automakers to downsize their organizations and established Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations, funded by automakers, to manage workers’ benefits programs.

However, as the three producers edged toward collapse earlier this year, GM and Chrysler obtained additional concessions from the UAW as a component of their bankruptcy filings that preceded federal rescue programs. Ford rejected federal support, but later sought comparable concessions from the union.

"Ford is disappointed that the additional changes were not ratified," stated Ford group v.p. of global manufacturing and labor affairs Joe Hinrichs. "Additional modifications we sought recently were designed to honor pattern bargaining and provide Ford with similar additional efficiencies as those ratified this year for our domestic competitors."

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