Ford: No negotiations on UAW contract until it expires

August 3, 2010 http://detnews.com/article/20100803/AUTO01/8030438

Ford: No negotiations on UAW contract until it expires

ALISA PRIDDLE
The Detroit News

Traverse City — Ford Motor Co. will continue to work with the United Auto Workers but has no intention of trying to reopen the contract before it expires in September 2011, said Mark Fields, the automaker’s president of the Americas.

"Our approach is to sit down with them every week and month and share, open book, with them," Fields told reporters on the eve of his Wednesday speech at the Management Briefing Seminars here. That is how you build a relationship, he said.

Until the master agreement expires, Ford will focus on its business.

"We won’t reopen before 2011," he said.

Ford’s competitors General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC got concessions from the UAW as part of their bankruptcy restructuring. Ford sought, but did not receive, similar concessions. But Fields said the automaker is concentrating on paying down its debt and will continue ongoing discussions with the union around competitiveness.

Ford is now hiring its first workers at the lower, $14-an-hour wage negotiated in the 2007 contract.

Its Chicago plant will add 1,200 jobs in November to build the new Ford Explorer and the automaker has begun canvassing the roughly 500 people on indefinite layoff. Some of the jobs will be filled with employees transferring from other plants as well, but an undetermined number will be new hires at the lower rate.

Ford plans to increase production about 16 percent in the third quarter after an increase of about 40 percent in the second quarter, Fields said.

But workers will build fewer cars overall in the second half because of seasonal shutdowns and because production will be impacted by the launch of the Explorer and the new Ford Focus.

The Wayne plant will be idled when the Focus starts assembly at the Michigan Assembly Plant in December.

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