Ford, UAW agreement is officially ratified

October 20, 2011 http://detnews.com/article/20111020/AUTO01/110200342

Ford, UAW agreement is officially ratified

63% of union voters said ‘yes’ to contract

ALISA PRIDDLE
/ The Detroit News

It is official. On Wednesday Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers ratified a new labor agreement covering 41,000 union members who make cars, trucks, engines, transmissions and components.

The move should provide four years of labor peace and locked-in costs, allowing Ford to concentrate on generating profits that workers will share and adding jobs for greater security.

Voting concluded Tuesday at the 58 UAW-Ford locals.

The final tally after two weeks is 63 percent in favor with 22,031 “yes” votes, to 37 percent voting against or 12,957 “no” votes. Total number of votes cast was 34,988.

Barclays Capital on Wednesday said the contract adds about 2 cents per share in cost, and 70 cents per hour, or $70 million annually assuming 1,000 skilled trades take buyouts.

“More importantly, successfully completing the labor negotiations without a strike likely opens up the way for likely ratings upgrade and resumption of the Ford dividend,” said Barclays analyst Brian Johnson.

Ford will go over the contract with analysts Thursday.

“While some UAW dissidents saw the contract as weak, failing to restore concessions made in the last decade, it appears to be richer than the contracts at the other members of the Big Three,” Johnson said.

One of the more well-known dissidents is Gary Walkowicz, bargaining chairman at Dearborn Truck Assembly.

“It is still my opinion that very few Ford workers were happy with this contract,” Walkowicz said. “I think many people who voted ‘yes’ felt they had no choice after they were threatened by the union leadership with strikebreakers and a worse contract if it was voted down. There were also hundreds of us Ford workers who were ready to fight against two-tier (entry) wages and frozen wages. That battle is not over.”

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said he is pleased with member support. “I believe UAW Ford workers understood the importance of each and every vote. That was evident in the high voter turnout with 85 percent of the overall membership voting.”

Settles addressed dissatisfaction expressed in comments on the UAW-Ford Facebook page during negotiations.

“Our members at Ford are frustrated with the economy, the lack of wage increases over the years, outrageous executive compensation and the immorality of Wall Street,” Settles said.

The main goal of the UAW was preserving and adding jobs.

UAW President Bob King said, “As the nation’s economy remains stalled and uncertain and its employment rate stagnates, we were able to win an agreement with Ford that will bring auto manufacturing jobs back to the United States from China, Mexico and Japan,” Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, called the deal proof the two sides can work together to “create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the U.S. economy.”

The Ford agreement adds 5,750 new jobs, bringing the total to 12,000 by 2014. It also brings $16 billion in investment. The 20 plants that benefit include Michigan Assembly in Wayne, AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Romeo Engine and other plants in Michigan.

With ratification, workers with a year of seniority will get a $6,000 signing bonus and receive $7,000 in “inflation protection” and other lump-sum payments over the term of the agreement. The first profit sharing payment this year will average $3,700.

Entry-level wages were also increased to $19.28 over the term of the agreement.

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