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Despite Fears of Rejection, Workers at Ford, GM Ratify Contracts

Approval frees union leaders to shift focus to new organizing efforts.

by on Nov.21, 2015

GM and UAW officials shown on July 13, 2015 marking the opening of contract talk.

Workers at both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors voted to accept each of their new four-year contract offers, in the process ending what had turned into an unexpectedly contentious round of negotiations – workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles soundly rejecting their own first contract offer.

A variety of offers pitted not only the United Auto Workers Union against Detroit’s Big Three but also saw the UAW having to fend off more militant members of the union. Starting with President Dennis Williams on down, Autoworkers leaders mobilized to sell a revised Chrysler contract. But they continued to run into trouble even with more lucrative offers from GM and Ford.

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At the smaller of the two, 51.3% of production workers and 52.4% of Ford’s skilled tradesmen voted for the contract. Among other things, that vote will earn 53,000 Ford workers ratification bonuses of $8,500.

“Through a fair and democratic process UAW-Ford members have delivered job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department.


GM, Ford, FCA Kick Off Negotiations with UAW

Union looking to get its piece of the automotive recovery.

by on Jul.13, 2015

Past UAW President Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations began in 2011 on the now expiring contract.

The overall economic impact of the negotiations between the domestic carmakers and the United Auto Workers on wages across the U.S. has waned over the years, but the inherent drama of the talks lives on as the two sides get down to bargaining this year and the stakes are as high as ever.

The negotiations, which open today with an official handshake between General Motors executives and top UAW officers, promise to particularly eventful – and unpredictable – because of the climate change that surrounds the 2015 negotiations.

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After all these are the first negotiations since the 1990s that follow a streak of five very profitable years, noted Kristin Dziczek, an analyst with Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. (more…)

UAW Likely to Get Seat on GM Board of Directors

Union’s health care trust nominates UAW VP Ashton.

by on Apr.28, 2014

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton was nominated to the General Motors' Board of Directors.

Change is in the air at General Motors as the company’s board will likely have a top official from the United Auto Workers for the first time in history. If elected, it will be the second union-influenced nominee on the board.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton has been nominated to fill a seat on the company’s board of directors, GM said in a proxy statement for its 2014 annual meeting of stockholders with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, also known as the VEBA, put Ashton on the ballot. He is scheduled to give up his post as head of the UAW’s GM Department in June following the UAW constitutional convention. If elected, Ashton will begin his board term in August. (more…)

Columbian Labor Dispute Threatens Big Problems for GM in Other Markets

Protesters stage hunger strike.

by on Sep.12, 2012

A dispute at GM's Columbian plant has triggered a hunger strike by workers and their supporters.

The small General Motors plant in Bogota, Columbia generally isn’t regarded as critical to GM’s fortunes in Latin America.

But a long-simmering labor dispute in Bogota between GM’s local management and a handful of determined strikers is making waves and now threatens to involve workers from GM’s much more critical operations in Brazil where workers have begun calling on the automaker to respect the human rights of the Columbian workers.

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“We know that not only in Brazil are we being attacked by GM’s plans. We also know that in Colombia, Mexico, France and Germany (GM wants) to end the jobs and workers’ rights,” Herbert Claros da Silva, vice president of the metalworkers union in San Jose dos Campos, said in a letter to activists from the Autoworkers Caravan.


Winners, Losers and American Car Buyers

by on Oct.20, 2011

Who won when GM and the UAW hammered out a new contract? Do consumers really care?

The trouble with our winners-losers society is that it often misses the point of the game.

Consider the recently concluded talks between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit’s car companies.

Critics of those agreements contend that the manufacturers got four years of labor peace for little or nothing. They are missing the point, which is this:

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The American consumer, the third and most important party at the bargaining table, does not give a damn.

As long as that remains the case, the UAW should be happy to have any contract at all.

Here’s why:


Chrysler May Push UAW into Arbitration

Union makes push but talks may be deadlocked.

by on Oct.06, 2011

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne may push contract talks with the UAW into arbitration.

With negotiations at Ford wrapped up, the United Auto Workers Union is turning its attention to what is potentially its most difficult target — Chrysler – but after faltering shortly before the original September 14 deadline there are growing concerns that the two sides may be deadlocked, forcing them to turn to binding arbitration as required by Chrysler’s 2009 federal bailout.

Hoping to push past the current impasse, UAW president Bob King has finally joined the negotiations, which are underway at Chrysler headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, setting the stage for several days of intense bargaining.

Chrysler has been threatening the union with arbitration – which was set as a requirement since the bailout barred a strike over economic issues.

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The union, however, tried to defuse the threat by going to Ford for the second contract after setting a tentative pattern agreement at General Motors, last month.

Complicating matters, the company and union have yet to agree on an arbitrator. Arbitration ultimately could take several months to resolve, postponing a final settlement until sometime next year.


New Settlement Will Increase Ford’s Competitiveness – Yield New Jobs and Investments

Maker hoping it will also trigger a credit rating hike.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The new UAW contract should result in Ford's maintaining the AutoAlliance plant in suburban Detroit which now builds the Ford Mustang and Mazda6. Mazda plans to abandon the plant.

Ford Motor Co. will increase by $16 billion its investment in North America while adding 12,000 new jobs, the maker announced as it confirmed reaching a tentative new contract with the United Auto Workers Union.

While declining to release specific details of the settlement, which was reached in the wee hours of the morning after more than two months of bargaining – and nearly three weeks after the union reached an agreement with General Motors – Ford officials stressed that the new contract will “improve our overall competitiveness.”

Ford is also hoping that, much like the GM agreement, the new contract will be received well by credit rating agencies.  Ford CEO Alan Mulally has made it a top priority to return to investment grade.  S&P last week indicated it would consider an upgrade if the Ford contract appeared similar in its advantages to the settlement won by GM.

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“We believe this agreement,” said Ford EVP John Fleming, “will enable us to increase our overall competitiveness in the United States,” something he underscored by noting the 4-year contract, if ratified, “will also permit us to insource work from Mexico, China, Japan and other parts of the world.”


Breaking News; Ford and UAW Reach Settlement

Chrysler left to settle.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The settlement is expected to see Ford add production of the next-generation Fusion - its design based on this Evos Concept -- at a plant in suburban Detroit, saving thousands of jobs.

Ford and the United Auto Workers Union have reached a tentative settlement covering the automaker’s U.S. hourly workers. The two sides are expected to hail the development as a critical step in maintaining the competitiveness of the domestic auto industry – and bringing jobs back.

The agreement comes more than two weeks after the UAW was able to hammer out an agreement with General Motors and is expected to follow the pattern of the GM agreement.  That would mean substantial bonuses and a small raise for tier-two workers currently earning about half as much as veterans on the line.

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But Ford is also expected to benefit from the agreement, as did GM, through terms designed to improve productivity and offset any added costs.  That is expected to result in the addition of new union jobs, while also helping Ford keep open a plant in the Detroit suburbs many had expected might close.

Ford officials will outline their view of the agreement during a news conference this morning, UAW leaders following several hours later. will have coverage following those events.


Are Ford and UAW Ready to Announce a Deal?

Senior union leaders summoned to Detroit Tuesday morning.

by on Oct.03, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations open in July.

Are Ford and the United Auto Workers Union ready to announce a deal on a new 4-year contract?

There are certainly signs that an agreement is at hand, the UAW calling senior local leaders to Detroit for a Tuesday morning meeting that sources indicate will be used to discuss a tentative agreement.  The likely settlement is expected to at least match the gains both General Motors and the union each claimed in the settlement they reached last month – though Ford is also expected to provide a slightly larger bonus to its hourly employees.

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Negotiations, meanwhile, continue at Chrysler, though there are indications the two sides have hit some significant stumbling blocks over issues that include a desired up-front “signing bonus,” as well as an increase in wages for second-tier hourly employees currently earning just half of what veteran Chrysler employees get.


UAW Ratifies GM Contract by 2-1 Margin

Talks pick up pace at Ford, Chrysler.

by on Sep.28, 2011

UAW President Bob King confirmed the GM contract had been ratified by a 2-1 margin.

The United Auto Workers Union’s rank-and-file has approved a new four-year contract with General Motors by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The new four-year contract is effective immediately and also is expected to lead to the creation of 6,500 new jobs over the next couple of years at GM plants in the U.S. – perhaps more as it may prompt GM to bring work back to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada.

The final vote tally was 65% in favor of the agreement among production workers, and 63% in favor among skilled trades workers. Retirees, many of whom were angered by contract lack of pension improvements, were not eligible to vote.

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The vote in favor of the contract while more than enough to ensure passage was actually  low by historical standards, indicating a sizeable number of union members were dissatisfied with the pact.  And it suggests the union could face rugged ratification votes after it settles contracts with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC