Ford Workers Agree to Cost-cutting Deal

Canadian plant will close, other concessions from union

Ford workers approved an agreement with management that includes shutting down a manufacturing plantson Nov. 1.

"No one should mistake workers' approval as satisfaction with the new agreement," CAW President Ken Lewenza said after the agreement passed with 83% of the vote. "Members had faith in the union to negotiate the best agreement possible and protect their interests over the long term, but the problems faced by industry cannot be resolved at the bargaining table," Lewenza added.

Some 1,500 jobs will be lost at the Ford plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, that will close in the third quarter of 2011. The plant produces the Ford Crown Victoria -- a model routinely chosen by U.S. police forces and New York taxis -- as well as the Mercury Grand Marquis.

The October 30 deal also includes a reduction in vacation, break times and co-payments on health care.The deal is the second cost-cutting agreement reached between the CAW and Ford in 18 months.

The agreement, which expires in September 2012, includes a commitment by the Ford to keep at least 10% of its North American production in Canada.

Although Ford did not accept bailout money from the U.S. government like Chrysler and General Motors did, the CAW said Ford followed the pattern set out earlier in the year by its US rivals to cut significant portions of their Canada operations as part of restructuring. In their deals, GM and Chrysler workers accepted $16 and $19 per-hour pay cuts respectively.

Chrysler and GM both filed for bankruptcy and received billions of dollars in US government aid. Canada's government also pumped billions of dollars into the companies as part of packages to keep their auto manufacturing operations here afloat.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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