The UAW brought a contract complaint against automaker Ford Motor Co. to an arbitration hearing on Thursday, which was a day after the contracts for all three Detroit car manufacturers expired and opportunities for a quick settlement were dashed.
The workers' complain claims that Ford broke an agreement for equal treatment of salaried employees and unionized workers by providing pay increases to white-collar workers and not making similar pay hikes to unionized workers. During the early parts of this week, the UAW and Ford had decided to extend the current contract.
The white collar pay increases is among the major sticking points in negotiations between the union and the automaker, says Reuters. The two parties have long known that the arbitration hearing was set for the day after the four-year UAW workers contract was to expire. This led to rumors that a settlement of the grievance would be folded into a new contract. According to a person who is familiar with the situation, an outcome is not expected Thursday.
Contracts for Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors as well as Ford expired last Wednesday. Both Chrysler and GM negotiating teams resumed talks with the UAW on Thursday.
Labor professor Harley Shaiken at the University of California-Berkeley commented, "We're in the overtime, but it's not unprecedented." The negotiations between the Detroit automakers and the UAW started seven weeks ago, considered an indicator of how much the industry has evolved since two years ago, the time when the industry nearly collapsed.