Members of the United Auto Workers have ratified a new contract with the Ford Motor Co. despite more than one third voting against, the union announced on Oct. 19.
Prior to the vote last weekend, the UAW's top negotiator at Ford had warned that the contract might be rejected and that the possible result would be a strike against the country's second largest automaker. But ratification was assured when workers at Ford's Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan and a big Ford assembly plant in Kansas City approved the contract.
"It is still my opinion that very few Ford workers were happy with this contract," said Gary Walkowicz, a committeeman at UAW Local 600 in Dearborn.
Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, called the agreement fair and said it improves Ford's competitiveness.
"This agreement is proof that, by working together with our UAW partners and local communities, we can significantly create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the U.S. economy."
The new four year contract will see Ford add 12,000 hourly jobs in its U.S. manufacturing facilities, including repatriating work now done in Mexico, China and Japan.
It narrows but maintains a large gap in the hourly pay between older and entry-level workers. Meanwhile the wages of long-term workers remained frozen at $29 per hour.
Ford workers were the second of the big three automakers to ratify a new UAW contract; GM workers approved their contract last month, while Chrysler workers will vote this week.
Under the new contracts, the UAW and the domestic automakers announced a total of 20,000 direct manufacturing jobs, including the creation of 6,400 jobs at GM and 2,100 at Chrysler.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011