Ford heads into contract talks with the United Auto Workers

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 22, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is set to engage in contract negotiations with labor union UAW next week in the worst position among the three carmakers in the United States. Due to the fact that the company did not obtain a government bailout, the company lacks two advantages that its rivals have -- a ban on strikes and a binding arbitration.

Specifically, workers at Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. have agreed to take unsettled disputes from the bargaining table to arbitration as part of the U.S.-backed bankruptcies in 2009. In addition, they also agreed not to strike over benefits and wages during contract negotiations.

As for Ford, its workers did not concur with the wishes of union leaders. They also rejected the arbitration and the strike ban, making Ford the only U.S. vehicle manufacturer to face a possible strike.

Labor analyst Kristin Dziczek from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., shared that there is no doubt Ford would be better off if they had the binding arbitration.

The analyst also said that ratifying a deal at Ford is a bit more uncertain compared to the two other carmakers as they have proven that they will turn down an agreement.

The union normally picks one vehicle manufacturer to make a deal, which is then used as a template for the other two. This pattern bargaining has kept benefits and wages close to parity among the three vehicle manufacturers, which currently hire around 113,000 U.S. hourly workers.

As of the moment, there may be a disruption with the parity. With Ford earning $9.3 billion in the last two years, the company’s employees may hesitate to agree on a deal crafted at Chrysler or GM or by an arbitrator for those automakers.

Topics: ford, uaw

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