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UAW members say geography complicates cuts in breaks

March 15, 2009

UAW members say geography complicates cuts in breaks

Why would UAW members at Ford consider voting against a proposed labor agreement because of a provision that would cut their break time from 48 minutes per 8-hour shift to 40 minutes?

Even though UAW workers ratified the changes to the labor agreement, they argued that the distance they have to walk to restrooms and break rooms eats up much of their break time and had a hard time understanding why Ford would push for the cuts when many other benefit cuts were part of the contract.

And Gary Chaison, professor and labor expert at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said the issue goes deeper.

"This is symbolically important," Chaison said. "This is something they wrested control over a long time ago … essentially what is happening here is what was once a very good job, but a tough job, is now being downgraded and degraded."

Ford said Wednesday the reduction in break time will increase productivity and will save $50 million annually.

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