Ford has just announced that its union-represented employees have ratified the new four-year labor contract that was reached back on Nov. 3 with the UAW. Unlike new labor contracts with General Motors and Chrysler that didn't attract overwhelming support from the UAW's rank-and-file membership, the Ford contract appears to have passed the popular vote with ease. The contract includes the increasingly popular VEBA account to take over for retiree health benefits, though Ford is contributing only 40% of the cash that will fund the account, compared to 54% for GM and 59% for Chrysler. Also like the previous two contracts, a new two-tier wage system will be employed, though only until 20% of Ford's UAW work force occupies the lower wage tier. Finally, Ford will take the money it saved on the VEBA account and reinvest it back into various manufacturing facilities to make them more flexible. Despite that, both the Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant and the Ohio Assembly Plant are being shuttered in addition to those already announced, while the automaker plans to make new product commitments to its remaining plants in the near future.
We're not sure whether UAW workers for Ford accepted the contract so readily because of its more favorable terms or the apparent futility in opposing the UAW leadership on things like labor contracts. There was a considerable amount of rank-and-file opposition to Chrysler's new labor contract, but at the end of the day it too won the popular vote thanks to the support of union leaders.
UAW-FORD NATIONAL LABOR AGREEMENT RATIFIED BY MEMBERS
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 14, 2007 – Ford Motor Company today confirmed that its new four-year national labor agreement, tentatively reached on Nov. 3, has been ratified by UAW-represented employees. The now-final agreement covers approximately 54,000 employees in the United States.
"We are pleased that our employees have voted to accept and finalize our new Collective Bargaining Agreement," said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. "This agreement is proof that by working together with our UAW partners, it is possible to find solutions that collectively benefit our employees, retirees and the company. This contract will provide significant opportunities for the company's long-term competitiveness, and that is good for all of us."