United Auto Workers at Ford Motors, following an 11th hour push by union leadership, narrowly approved a new contract putting in place the third and final labor agreement between Detroit’s “Big Three” and the autoworkers union. The new pact ensures four more years of labor peace for the country’s top automakers. Voted by the narrowest of margins – 51.4 percent to 49.6 – the pact’s approval was assured by Local 600, which represents auto workers in Dearborn, Mich, said Automotive News early today. The margin of victory was a slim 1,400 votes of the 40,000 cast on the new contract.
Dennis Williams, UAW president said that the union’s membership had “ratified the national agreement after a long process and much debate … The majority has secured a strong future that will provide job security and economic stability for themselves and their families.”
Union leadership pulled out all the stops in its politicking to see the contract approved. Working Local 600, the leadership said that even if they went back to the bargaining table – if the pact was voted down – there was no guarantee there would be a better contract. Further, they warned that a negative vote could upset Ford’s plans to invest $9 billion in United States manufacturing. The final contract tally showed that production workers approved the pact by 51.3 percent, while skilled tradesmen supported it with a 52.4 percent vote.
The new pact gives Ford’s 53,000 hourly workers an $8,500 contract signing bonus, plus negotiators were able to procure a $1,500 advance on 2016 profit sharing. The next profit sharing payout is expected to be more than $6,600. The pact also guarantees three percent wage hikes in 2015 and 2017 along with four percent lump sum bonuses in 2016 and 2018. The wage hikes are the first in a decade. New workers, hired since 2007, will also more quickly receive full wages. Newer workers will now receive full pay within eight years. This was a bone of contention for some union members.
Of course, Ford is happy with the new deal. John Fleming, the automaker’s executive vice president for global manufacturing and labor affairs, said the wage pact “provides a good foundation for Ford Motor Company, our employees and our communities as we work together to create an even stronger business in the years ahead.” UAW leadership was pleased as well. Jimmy Settles, a lead negotiator and UAW vice president said that the agreement delivers “job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities.”