Ford and UAW negotiate contract

Marco Green
July 16, 2019

The Detroit-based carmaker continues to spar with the labor union over its decision to lay off 14,000 workers and close several factories in the USA and Canada.

Members of the local United Auto Workers union, hold large UAW letters during the St. Louis Labor Day Parade in St. Louis on September 4, 2017.

John DeBernardo, a Local 1112 member, said workers will spend the day rallying in support of the global union and will return to the area Tuesday evening.

More than 150 members of the United Auto Workers Local 1112 out of Lordstown will arrive in Detroit on Tuesday morning to rally in support of the global union as it begins negotiations with General Motors.

And even as Ford and other companies face a more hard landscape in transitioning to electric and autonomous vehicles, UAW President Gary Jones said the union also will press for workers to get a greater share of the companies' solid profits.

Bill Ford acknowledged there would be "a lot of tough issues; there always are", but was confident a deal could be reached.

Rising healthcare costs, job security and the use of temporary workers are also expected to be major sticking points.

The discussions come at a tricky time for both sides. This year GM workers got $10,750 profit-sharing checks for 2018, while Ford workers got $7,600 and FCA union members got $6,000. Automakers also face rising costs associated with the development of electric vehicles and self-driving cars, although Jones said the union wanted to aid in the development of those businesses. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its UAW counterparts are still dealing with the legal fallout from ex-union and company officials draining millions from a union training fund to enrich themselves.

Health care: UAW members have some of the best health care benefits in America, contributing just 3 percent to their own coverage, compared with 29 percent for the average employee-covered family plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The union's long-sought goal of organizing foreign automakers has also proven elusive.

Jones expressed concern about Ford's growing alliance with VW, given the German automaker's resistance in Tennessee.

■ Corruption scandal: A dark cloud hanging over this year's talks will be the corruption scandal embroiling the training center jointly run by Fiat Chrysler and the UAW. Last year, after nine years of gains, membership dropped again, falling 8% to below 400,000.

Green is staying behind to continue to help 1112 members with transfer orders they have gotten or expect to receive from the automaker.

GM in particular has been a target of union ire since announcing the closure of five North American plants late previous year.

That move drew widespread condemnation, including from Republican U.S. President Donald Trump.

But GM's desire to bring on more temp workers is going to run headlong into UAW leadership, who heard an earful during their bargaining convention in March.

"There will be no more quiet closing of plants, no more shipping jobs to Mexico and overseas without a sound", he said. The union previously raised its weekly strike pay to $250 per week.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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