Union Rejects Ford Concessions Deal

The tentative agreement would have granted Ford key work rule changes, a six-year wage freeze for new hires and a no-strike clause through 2015.

Union members have rejected a deal to grant Ford Motor Co. concessions awarded to rivals General Motors and Chrysler, the United Auto Workers said on Nov. 2. The deal was rejected by 70% of the membership in production and 75% of skilled trades workers.

The UAW, which had endorsed the deal, said it was "respectful" of the decision of its membership and "will not be returning to the bargaining table."

The tentative agreement would have granted Ford key work rule changes, a six-year wage freeze for new hires and a no-strike clause through 2015.

The union has typically engaged in "pattern" bargaining so none of the Detroit Three was at a competitive advantage, but members balked at granting the concessions to Ford which did not resort to government aid and posted a surprise one billion dollar third quarter profit on Nov. 2.

The tentative deal also included a sweetener of a $1,000 bonus for each of the 41,000 workers and product commitments which the UAW said "insured long-term job security for Ford workers."

Given that the Canadian Auto Workers voted to ratify similar contract changes, it is possible that Ford may shift some production out of the U.S. as a result of the vote.

The UAW said it will "continue to work with Ford on a daily basis in an effort to keep new products coming into our plants."

"We will also continue to work with Ford to insure they maintain the highest ratings in quality and productivity and insure that they remain competitive," UAW president Ron Gettelfinger said.

Ford said it was "disappointed that the additional changes were not ratified" and said it "will work with the UAW to discuss the next steps to ensure Ford remains competitive so we can continue to make product commitments and invest in our manufacturing facilities here in the United States."

The automaker said the UAW had already moved "most of the way" to granting Ford "competitive parity" with the non-unionized U.S. plants of its foreign rivals. However, it said it had sought the "additional efficiencies" granted to GM and Chrysler in order to remain competitive.

"All of us at Ford are absolutely committed to continuing to make progress on our transformation plan, and we will take the necessary steps to be competitive with the best in the business," Ford said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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