Ford Motor Company and the leadership of the Canadian Auto Workers union have reached a tentative agreement after a marathon four-day wrap-up to negotiations. Union membership needs to approve the deal, which will guarantee a Great White North presence for Ford until at least 2012. Voting is underway this weekend, and if approved, the CAW will be responsible for building 10 percent of Ford's North American production, down from the current 13 percent, which the union had been trying to hold on to.

Workers did agree to time off reductions, and pledged that new employees will have to pay into their pensions. Ford's given its word that the company will build as many vehicles in Canada as it sells there, and the union deemed the pledge good enough to grant GM- and Chrysler-style concessions to Ford.

The Panther platform has been given its last rites; the St. Thomas Assembly plant is the only Ford location currently building the body-on-frame biggies, and that plant will close in September 2011. The 1,600 people in Ontario who build Town Cars and Grand Marquis are understandably unhappy about word that Ford intends to shutter the plant, but the Panther has cheated death more than once. This time, it may stick.

Better news for CAW members is that Ford's Oakville assembly complex, also in Ontario, has the go-ahead to add a third shift when needed. Ford also says it will manufacture a new vehicle at Oakville, which currently builds the Edge, Flex, MKX, and MKT crossovers, but that will likely come after the current labor agreement expires.

[Source: CBC News, Photo: Ford/ CC]

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