Two years ago when Ford was negotiating a new contract with the UAW, the automaker was paying its union workers the oft-bandied amount of $70 per hour. That amount wasn't the actual hourly wage of each employee, though, but rather the employee's hourly wage plus the cost of contributions to current and future benefits for retirees and workers still with the company. Now, due to a newly signed agreement with the United Auto Workers union, Ford projects that total cost per worker will go down to $55 per hour.

That puts The Blue Oval only about $5 away from the total hourly compensation paid by transplanted automakers like Toyota and Honda to their non-union workers. Among measures such as cutting overtime, bonuses, cost-of-living increases, and one paid holiday, Ford reworked its contribution to the VEBA account that will fund retiree healthcare so that it can pay into it with stock instead of cash, the total savings of which could add up to $500 million per year.

Intriguingly, it was remarked that "Ford's deal with the UAW appeared to meet the cost savings targets set out by the Treasury Department for its aid to GM and Chrysler," yet Ford is the one that didn't take government money and so, technically, is the one automaker not compelled to meet those targets. General Motors and Chrysler have also made new agreements with the UAW, but details have yet to be released.

[Source: Reuters, Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty]